Conference chief race wide open

Archbishop of Cebu says he's too busy to head bishops' organization

Conference chief race wide open
Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu
Lourdes Abelardo, Manila, Philippines

July 4, 2011

The top post at the Catholic bishops’ conference looks to be up for grabs after the hotly-tipped candidate said he did not want the position. Vice president Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu, considered the most likely successor of Bishop Nereo Odchimar as conference chief, said he is not interested in the post. By tradition, the conference vice president usually succeeds if the incumbent is not re-elected for another term. "I’ll certainly signify my desire to no longer seek that very important role in," Archbishop Palma said. "I believe that there are many other bishops or archbishops more suited for the role," he said. The conference is set to elect its new leadership during a plenary assembly on July 8. Archbishop Palma said he already has too many responsibilities as prelate of Cebu archdiocese. The plenary assembly comes soon after the conference made headlines for the wrong reasons last week after government officials accused several bishops of receiving cars as gifts from the former administration. Critics even accused Bishop Odchimar of being too "close" to former president Gloria Arroyo, putting his re-election in doubt. The prelate responded by saying protocol required him to be close to the president.