Updated: September 16, 2021 08:00 AM GMT
Bishop Pedregosa poses with members of the youth commission of Malaybalay Diocese. (Photo: Courtesy of Malaybalay Diocese)
A newly installed Catholic bishop in the Philippines has vowed to center his ministry on the environment and urged Catholics in his diocese to take care of the earth as set out in Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si'.
“I pray that God will bless me to be a good shepherd, a shepherding of listening, dialogue, love, gentle correction and appreciation; a shepherding of humility and openness; a shepherding of intimate friendships and holiness,” he said in his homily.
“My mission extends to the environment, as seen in my coat of arms as Bishop of Malaybalay. One can see a tree rooted in greenery at the bottom of my coat of arms. It represents the strong ecological thrust of the entire Church, particularly in the context of Bukidnon, whose pastoral care was entrusted to me as bishop,” he said.
Bukidnon, in the north-central part of Mindanao island, is considered the food basket of the region as most of its people are farmers growing rice and corn. The province also produces pineapples, bananas and sugarcane.
The new bishop said the Church has “always been found on the front line of social and environmental issues such as open-pit mining, land-grabbing, unjust & abusive land use and illegal logging.”
“The agricultural motif likewise links my farming background and the role of San Isidro Labrador, the Diocesan patron saint in his life. I want to put the environment as one of the central issues of my advocacy as bishop,” he said.
“Charity can bring authentic healing and unity among ourselves, with nurturing Mother Earth and with the Holy Triune God the author of everything,” the new bishop said.
He served as administrator of Malaybalay Diocese after Bishop Cabantan was transferred to his new assignment.
The ordination was witnessed by the papal nuncio to the Philippines Archbishop Charles John Brown together with Bishop Pedregosa’s predecessor Archbishop Cabantan as principal consecrator.
Several bishops from Mindanao and several of the new bishops’ classmates at Saint Vincent School of Theology in Quezon City, Manila were among the limited number of people who attended the ceremony due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Bishop Pedregosa previously admitted his appointment came as a surprise.
“This gift of episcopacy was a grace and a mystery. It cannot be fathomed by human understanding because of my unworthiness, weakness, and sinfulness,” he said in his homily during his first Mass as bishop.
“Please continue to pray for us, your priests, bishops, for our Holy Father, Pope Francis and especially for me — that the Holy Triune God may grant me the grace of care and nurture.”
The new prelate said he wanted Catholics to remember him as a bishop who promoted dialogue and communication in the Catholic Church.
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