Updated: February 03, 2017 08:56 AM GMT
Archbishop Ramon Arguelles of Lipa has retired three years short of the mandatory retirement age for bishops. (Photo by Angie de Silva)
A Philippine archbishop said his resignation this month has nothing to do with a Vatican decision reversing his declaration that a Marian apparition in his archdiocese was "worthy of belief."
"There's nothing to say. I was assigned here to shepherd [the people] but I can also be replaced," said Archbishop Ramon Arguelles of Lipa who refused to disclose the reason for his early retirement.
The prelate said he submitted his resignation a while ago but he kept it quiet. "That is the protocol," he said, adding that the Vatican has the prerogative to announce the resignation.
Archbishop Arguelles said he is thankful that the Vatican has given him a "chance to rest."
The Vatican announced on Feb. 2 the appointment of Bishop Gilbert Garcera of Daet as the new Lipa prelate following Archbishop Arguelles' resignation.
The news came as a surprise to many Filipinos because Archbishop Arguelles is 72, three years short of the mandatory retirement age for bishops.
In June last year, the Vatican issued a decree stating that the Marian apparition in Lipa that occurred more than 60 years ago has no "supernatural origin."
The decree reversed the earlier declaration made by Archbishop Arguelles that the phenomenon was "worthy of belief."
The Vatican also advised that studies on the phenomenon should be stopped.
In 1948, the Virgin Mary reportedly appeared before a Carmelite Sister Teresita Castillo at her monastery in Lipa.
A shower of rose petals that bore the images of the Virgin Mary and Jesus followed the reported apparition.
Former Bishop Mariano Gaviola of Lipa declared that the apparition was "worthy of belief," a declaration reiterated in 2009 and 2015 by Archbishop Arguelles.
In a statement after the Vatican decision last year, the prelate said he would abide by the decision of the Holy See.
"We will continue to obey the church, the church leaders, we will continue to love the church but we will continue our devotion," he said.
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