The archbishop of Manila and the retired archbishop of Cotabato led the thanksgiving Mass of the new president in Manila
President Bongbong Marcos and Vice President Sara Duterte with Cardinal Quevedo (left) and Cardinal Advincula. (Photo: Joseph Peter Calleja)
Two cardinals leading the thanksgiving Mass of new Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. is being perceived as the Catholic Church’s willingness to have 'principled cooperation’ with the government led by the son and namesake of the infamous late dictator.
Cardinal Jose Advincula of Manila along with Cardinal Orlando Quevedo, the retired archbishop of Cotabato, led the Mass in Manila on July 1.
Marcos Jr. and Vice President Sara Duterte attended the Mass together with their cabinet secretaries.
“The presence of our cardinals is part of the principled cooperation that the Catholic Church’s hierarchy is extending to the new administration. Even the papal nuncio has assured President Marcos of the Vatican’s cooperation,” Mindanao priest and Social Action Chairman Father Joseph De Leon told UCA News.
The priest said the cardinals’ presence was meant to assure that everyone is welcome to work for the common good.
Several Church groups including clergymen campaigned for Leni Robredo, the rival candidate of Marcos Jr., urging people to defeat Marcos Jr. and not to forget the dark era of martial law under his dictator father Marcos.
However, Marcos Jr. polled 68 percent of the votes pooled in the October-November election.
“As long as it is for the common good, the Church is always there to support it. We will not discriminate. The people have chosen, so their will must be respected,” Father De Leon added.
Some clergymen showed their support for Marcos Jr. after hearing about Pope Francis’ congratulatory remarks read by Papal Nuncio Archbishop Charles Brown on June 29.
Pope Francis sent his best wishes to the new president assuring him of his prayers.
“In assuring you of my prayers that you will be sustained in wisdom and strength, I invoke Almighty God’s blessings of peace and prosperity upon the nation,” the pope said in his message.
The Church’s social arm Caritas said although some prelates have extended their support to the president, he must not lose sight of the present concerns of the poor.
Caritas chief Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo of Kidapawan said Marcos, Jr. should not forget to solve the country’s social ills like poverty and corruption. “3.9 million Filipinos are poor. Poverty rose to 23.7% during the first semester of 2021. That is equivalent to 26.1 million people,” said Bishop Bagaforo citing a Philippine Statistics Authority report.
Bishop Bagaforo also urged Marcos to make food accessible to all by becoming head of the Agriculture Department.
It is the first time in Philippine history that the president has become head of the Agriculture Department, the prelate said.
“He [Marcos, Jr.] also needs to address the plight of farmers versus imported agricultural products. This has worsened due to the Rick Tarrification Law that paved the way for more imported rice to reach the Philippines,” Bishop Bagaforo added in an interview with Church-run Radyo Veritas.
“Caritas will continue to foster principled cooperation with the government. The Church will work with government initiatives that respect the rights and dignity of the Filipino people. There is no question about that.”
Churchgoers who supported Marcos have praised the Church’s hierarchy for showing support for the new president.
“We are relieved that we are seeing our religious leaders’ presence in the activities of the president. He is also a Catholic and he needs prayers and support in running the country,” Manila parishioner and Marcos supporter Kate Sayson told UCA News.
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