It was dinner time in the Philippines when the Pope announced Orlando Quevedo, would become a cardinal. In fact, it was Manila Card. Luis Antonio Tagle who broke the news to the skeptic archbishop of Cotabato. The feeling that arose with him was not one of joy or honor, instead he described it as "being crowned with thorns."
"I would like to be as I was before, simple, approachable, no formality, and just go out to the people. I would like to continue doing that and particularly going to the mountains where the poor are.”
Card. Quevedo's tepid response to his appointment is a clear indication why the Pope picked him. But he feels there's another reason too. His archdiocese is in Mindanao, a restive area in the southern Philippines, home to a large Muslim population, and an on-going violent struggle by Islamist separatist groups.
"The archdiocese represents a microcosm of the entire problems of the entire Mindanao area. It's poverty, conflict, and underdevelopment. And you find that, with 47 percent Muslim and 48 percent Catholic in the archdiocese, so almost half and half.”
The local church, plays a big role in easing tensions. The cardinal said their focus is on creating communities based on dialogue, and the formation of lay people committed to peace. The reason deals with the likely future of his archdiocese, within an autonomous Muslim area.
"Probably in the future, when the peace agreement is signed and implemented Cotabato City will be the center.”
As an adviser to the Pope, Card. Quevedo said he's happy with the direction Pope Francis is taking the Church. But he advocated for a "radical change of heart and mind” for every member of the Church and all its institutions, in order to go back to its roots.
"The only way a Church can redeem its resources as well as its institutions will be to place them at the service of justice, and of the poor, for the sake of the Kingdom of God.”
For many years, Card. Quevedo has been considered a leading figure of the local church in Asia. The cardinal emphasized the local church is the first to respond to any challenges today, so when local communities are strong, it makes the universal Catholic Church even stronger.