Pope Francis addresses crowds of faithful in St Peter's Square during his Angelus on Sunday, after which he named his selections for 19 new cardinals (picture: AFP Photo/Filippo Monteforte)
Filipinos, especially from Mindanao, have expressed hope that the elevation of Cardinal-designate Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato to the College of Cardinals will help hasten the peace process in the conflict-plagued southern region.
Bishop Martin Jumoad of Basilan expressed confidence that the naming of Cardinal-designate Quevedo by Pope Francis as one of the Catholic Church’s 19 new cardinals will help advance the cause of peace in the southern Philippines.
“[The cardinal-designate’s] voice will surely have weight and he can guide the peace talks to be pro-God, pro-people, devoid of selfish interest, but only for the welfare of the whole people of Mindanao,” Bishop Jumoad told ucanews.com.
The rebel Moro Islamic Liberation Front said the elevation of the cardinal-designate is a “welcome development”.
“It’s good for peace efforts in Mindanao,” said rebel spokesman Mohagher Iqbal.
The cardinal-designate was one of two Asian prelates named to the College of Cardinals by Pope Francis on Sunday. Also named was Korean Archbishop Andrew Yeom Soo-jung of Seoul, 70.
The Church outside Rome was well represented in Francis’ new appointments, with five from Latin or Central America, two from Africa, two from Asia and one from North America. The appointments were seen as consistent with the pope’s emphasis on the Church’s role in serving the needs of the poor.
Other cardinals named included prelates from Haiti, Nicaragua, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast and the pope’s home country of Argentina. Also named were three cardinals over the age of 80 and therefore ineligible to vote in a papal conclave. Among those was Cardinal-designate Loris Capovilla, who served as personal secretary to Blessed John XXIII.
"Let us pray for the new cardinals, that vested in the virtues and the sentiments of the Lord Jesus, the Good Shepherd, they might be able to help more effectively the bishop of Rome in his service to the universal church," Pope Francis said on Sunday in announcing the new appointments.
In the Philippines, Cardinal-designate Quevedo was known for being at the forefront of peace efforts in the southern Philippines over the past two decades.
In a 2003 paper titled "Injustice: the Root of Conflict in Mindanao," Quevedo said the root cause of the Moro rebellion in the southern Philippines was "injustice" to the Moro people's "identity, political sovereignty, and integral development".
"Through the years I have gained some understanding of the Moro viewpoint that has significantly influenced, even altered, my Christian viewpoint ... being with Muslim students and professionals for many years,” Quevedo wrote.
The Catholic bishops’ conference welcomed the elevation of Quevedo, saying it is proof of the strength of the Catholic faith in Mindanao and "Cardinal Quevedo is its living testimony."
Cardinal-designate Quevedo will be the eighth Filipino to be elevated to the College of Cardinals.
Born in the northern province of Laoag, he served two terms as president of the bishops' conference. He is known to have championed justice and peace issues during the martial law years in the 1970s and 1980s.
He and six other Catholic bishops were linked to a 2011 controversy in which critics of former president Gloria Arroyo alleged that Church leaders received expensive vehicles from the government.
Cardinal-designate Quevedo denied the allegation, saying he "never requested or received" any vehicle for personal use. He said he requested a vehicle from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office "to be used by our social action program" to help provide basic necessities for Muslims and Christians displaced by the conflict in Mindanao.
During his term as president of the bishops' conference in 2003, Quevedo revealed that about 200 of the country's 7,000 priests may have committed “sexual misconduct” -- including child abuse.
He said a protocol was drafted by the bishops to address the issue on dealing with sexual abuse cases. A decade later, the code of conduct has yet to be put in place and is still pending before the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the Vatican.
Cardinal-designate Quevedo, a member of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, served as secretary-general of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences, from 2005 to 2011.
He was ordained in June, 1964, and appointed a bishop of the Prelature of Kidapawan in Mindanao by Blessed John Paul II in July, 1980. He was named archbishop of Nueva Segovia in the northern Philippines in March, 1986 and appointed archbishop of Cotabato two years later.