ucanews.com reporter, ManilaUpdated: July 14, 2017 03:24 AM GMT
Archbishop Romulo Valles of Davao, president of the Philippine bishops' conference. (Photo by Ruby Thursday More)
The new president of the Philippine bishops' conference said he will promote "active dialogue" during his term as head of the collegial body over the next two years.
Archbishop Romulo Valles of Davao said it is the vision of the country's church leaders to pursue dialogue.
He said his election as president of the bishops' conference was "God's will" that he has to accept.
"I look at it with faith that even with all my limitations God must have allowed it, me to be elected as president," said the prelate in an interview on church-run Radio Veritas.
Archbishop Valles said that even through his "smallness" he would be able "to do my job and do the affairs of the conference in a way that could put the glory of God in his church."
The prelate said it is important to pursue dialogue, especially amid the conflict in the southern part of the country where government security forces continue to battle terrorist gunmen.
He said the statement released by the bishops at the end of their meeting on July 10 was "encouraging us to engage and put out efforts in promoting dialogue."
Archbishop Valles was elected president of the bishops' conference during its 115th plenary assembly on July 8.
The country's church leaders followed tradition when they elected the Davao prelate, the current vice president of the collegial body, as their new leader.
The 66-year-old archbishop, a close friend of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, has served as vice president of the conference since December 2013.
In a 2016 interview, Archbishop Valles said, "a friendly sharing of ideas would be good" to engage the then newly-elected Duterte.
The prelate said he was "always hopeful" that the president, who has condemned the Catholic Church as "the most hypocritical institution," will change.
Pope Benedict XVI named the prelate Archbishop of Davao in 2012.
Born in Maribojoc, Bohol, Archbishop Valles graduated valedictorian at Maryknoll High School in Lupon, Davao Oriental in 1968.
He took up his Philosophy and Theology courses at St. Francis Xavier Regional Major Seminary in Davao City, where he topped his class.
Ordained a priest in Tagum Diocese on April 6, 1976, he was named Bishop of Kidapawan in June 1997, and Archbishop of Zamboanga in November 2006.
Archbishop Valles will be the 20th head of the 72-year-old collegial body of 83 active bishops, five diocesan administrators, and 43 honorary members of the conference.
Conference officials have a two-year term in office, or a total of four to include a second term. If tradition is to be followed, incumbent officials are re-elected for their second and last term.