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Catholics look to new Manila prelate to champion human rights

Faithful in Philippine capital hope Cardinal Advincula will tackle'plague of killings, corruption within govt'

Catholics look to new Manila prelate to champion human rights

Pope Francis has appointed Cardinal Jose Advincula of Capiz as the new archbishop of Manila. (Photo supplied)

Catholics in the Philippines say they hope Manila’s newly appointed archbishop will live up to his billing as a passionate rights advocate and be a voice for the poor in fighting for human rights.

Pope Francis appointed Cardinal Jose Advincula of Capiz as the new archbishop of Manila on March 25.

Cardinal Advincula becomes Manila’s 33rd archbishop and succeeds Cardinal Luis Tagle, who is now prefect of the Congregation of the Evangelization of Peoples at the Vatican.

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“We hope Cardinal Advincula, as the new archbishop of Manila, will speak up for the poor, particularly families of those traumatized by extrajudicial killings in Manila,” local churchgoer Robin Reyes told UCA news.

He said much is expected from Manila’s new archbishop, especially with regard to the number of killings linked to the government’s “war on drugs” and other murders in the Philippine capital.

“The Archdiocese of Manila is a killing ground. Many are being shot by unknown assailants almost every day. I wonder how our new shepherd will react to this issue,” Reyes said.

Another resident said the new archbishop should not turn a blind eye to allegations of corruption in government, particularly over a lack of Covid-19 vaccines.

“Being archbishop of Manila is not only about celebrating Mass for the people. It is more than that. It is to be with people’s suffering and part of this is to address the reasons that make them poor…. One of them is corruption in government,” Michael Panganiban said.

Manila residents said they had expected a bishops’ conference official like its president, Archbishop Romulo Valles, or vice-president, Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, to be archbishop.

Some, however, were not surprised by the announcement.

“We were not entirely surprised because when Pope Francis made Cardinal Advincula a Cardinal, his seat in Capiz is not for a cardinal so the logical option would have been to transfer him to Manila which is a seat fit for a cardinal,” Fanny Rebustico said.

Cardinal Advincula is known for his strong views on the importance of promoting human rights in the Catholic Church’s mission.

“Protecting human rights is never an option. They are at the heart of every church’s mission. The dignity of the human person is the key to social problems that beset a nation,” Cardinal Advincula told reporters in October last year.

He also led efforts to combat online sex trafficking when he was archbishop of Capiz.

“The Church has to see to it that human dignity and the human rights of people are respected,” he told Vatican News last year.

Commenting on his new appointment, Cardinal Advincula asked Catholics to accompany him in prayers before he assumes the leadership of the Philippines’ largest diocese.

“I take this blessing not only for myself but also for the faithful of the Archdiocese of Capiz and of course for the entire Philippines… I am asking the faithful and the religious to pray for me as I pray for everybody,” he said on March 26.

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