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New archbishop takes the reins in Cebu

Prelate declares his mission of unity and growth

Cardinal Ricardo Vidal steps down  after handing to Archbishop Jose Palma (left) the bishop’s pastoral staff Cardinal Ricardo Vidal steps down after handing to Archbishop Jose Palma (left) the bishop’s pastoral staff
  • ucanews.com reporter, Cebu City
  • Philippines
  • January 13, 2011
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Archbishop Jose Palma, the new head of the Archdiocese of Cebu in the central Philippines, called on Cebuanos to unite and help the Church grow.

"In my small capacity, I know this is God’s will for me," he said during a dinner reception last night, referring to his appointment as archbishop of the country’s largest archdiocese.

"I hope that we Cebuanos will be united and will help each other for the growth of the Church."

Archbishop Palma said Cebu is a "wonderful province" that has produced Church and government leaders.

The archdiocese also has four million Catholics, 370 diocesan priests, 282 religious priests, at least 400 seminarians and about a thousand religious nuns.

"I am not overwhelmed," he said. "There is so much work but there are so many collaborators too."

Outgoing Cebu archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal warned Archbishop Palma in jest: "Cebuanos has the reputation of slaying people they do not like. Think of (Spanish conquestador Ferdinand) Magellan, the poor fellow."

Lapu-Lapu, a local leader, killed Magellan at a battle in the nearby island of Mactan in 1521.

"But they also have a reputation of taking care of the little fellows whom they like. They kept the Santo Niño (Child Jesus) in good condition.... They accepted me as I am of the same height as the Santo Niño," Cardinal Vidal said with a smile.

"Archbishop Joe, Cebu might be a dynamo of progress in the Philippines, but as you will see later on in your first fiesta as archbishop of Cebu, it is also a dynamo of faith," the cardinal said.

The archdiocese will celebrate the feast of the Santo Niño on Sunday.

Archbishop Palma received a warm welcome from Cebuanos earlier in the day. Hundreds of students, workers, government executives and Church people lined the streets where his convoy passed from the airport.

The archbishop opened the car’s window several times to wave back at the crowd. He later told reporters that he was "overwhelmed by the warm welcome."

Cardinal Vidal welcomed Archbishop Palma by handing a crucifix and a vessel filled with holy water.

Archbishop Palma then recited the Profession of Faith and the Oath of Fidelity, a promise a bishop makes to the Holy See, in Latin.

Related reports
Cardinal Vidal says his goodbyes to Cebu
Cebu’s new archbishop plans extra dioceses
Security up in Cebu for feast of Child Jesus

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