Pope Francis appointed Cardinal Jose F. Advincula of the Archdiocese of Capiz in the central Philippines as the new archbishop of Manila.
The Vatican made the announcement in Rome on March 25 at 7p.m. Manilla time. The bells of the Manila Cathedral in the old walled city of Intramuros tolled in celebration following the announcement.
The Archdiocese of Manila has been left “sede vacante” after Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle assumed his post as Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples in Rome in February last year.
Born on March 30, 1952, in Capiz, Cardinal Advincula was ordained priest in 1976. He was appointed bishop of San Carlos in 2001 and archbishop of Capiz in 2011.
In October 2020, Pope Francis name the prelate of Capiz a cardinal, the ninth in the Philippines following Cardinals Orlando Quevedo, Tagle, Gaudencio Rosales, Jose Sanchez, Ricardo Vidal, Jaime Sin, Julio Rosales, and Rufino Santos.
After his installation last year, Cardinal Advincula was quoted in media interviews as saying that protecting human rights is not optional for the Catholic Church.
“The Church has to see to it that the human dignity and the human rights of the people are respected,” he said in an interview released by Vatican News.
“Poverty is one of the reasons why we have social problems,” said Cardinal Advincula, adding that “education is the way to develop the people so that they can earn more in order to live a more decent life.”
The 69-year-old prelate has been the second Filipino named by Pope Francis as cardinal after Cardinal Orlando Quevedo, the 81-year-old archbishop emeritus of Cotabato.
Coming from a lesser-known diocese, Cardinal Advincula admitted he was surprised by his appointment to the College of Cardinals.
“This might be a way the Holy Father wants to convey to the people the presence of the Church in the peripheries,” he said.
“I always thought that the Church has to be closer to the people, especially those that are in the peripheries,” he added.
‘Fitting gift to the Church’
“He is a fitting gift of the local Church of Capiz to the local Church of Manila,” was the reaction of Bishop Jose Elmer Mangalinao of Bayombong upong learning of Cardinal Advincula’s appointment.
“Like our Lady, he willingly accepted the call and made himself totally available for the mission,” said the prelate.
Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Kalookan welcomed the cardinal who will also serve as head of the Philippine Church’s Metropolitan Province of Manila.
“He is the second one from Panay island to become both cardinal and archbishop of Manila,” noted Bishop David.
The late Cardinal Jaime Sin hailed from the province of Aklan on Panay island.
“We are happy to welcome our new shepherd in the archdiocese and we are eager to receive him,” said Bishop Broderick Pabillo, apostolic administrator of Manila.
Bishop Arturo Bastes, retired prelate of Sorsogon, said the appointment of Cardinal Advincula “is a very good news.”
Bishop Bastes described the cardinal as “a very lovable person, friendly, easily available with a cheerful disposition, endowed with great intelligence and deep spirituality.”
“His personality and training make him the best choice as archbishop of Manila,” said Bishop Bastes.
Bishop Rex Alarcon of Daet said he expects the new head of the Archdiocese of Manila to “walk with God’s people … especially in these difficult times.”
“We assure him, our elder brother, of our prayers, solidarity and support as we thank Pope Francis for this new appointment,” said the prelate.
Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga said Cardinal Advincula is “a great blessing to Manila,” describing the cardinal as “a dedicated and devoted pastor.”
‘Be humble, help the poor’
In his message to the new cardinal last November, Pope Francis reminded Cardinal Advincula to be humble and not forget the poor.
“It is my hope that this vocation to which the Lord calls you will make you grow in humility and in the spirit of service,” said the pope.
Cardinal Advincula read part of the letter during the November 18 episode of “Usapang Tomasino,” an online forum of the alumni association of priests from the University of Santo Tomas.
“It’s one of the lines that really catch my attention,” said the cardinal. “But I think it’s not only addressed to me but to all of us priests and bishops.”
Cardinal Advincula then expressed hope to continue the programs of the social action center of his archdiocese, especially the projects for the poor in mission stations.
The archdiocese also runs mission schools and vocational schools in far-flung areas.
With reporting by Mark Saludes