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Opinion

A Cardinal for Mindanao


The announcement of a Cardinal Hat for the Archbishop of Cotabato, the Most Rev. Orlando B. Quevedo, OMI last January 12th was a big surprise to many - both laity and clergy as well. In the recent past, the so called Red Hat was reserved for big metropolitan Sees (Archdioceses) or to recognize ‘special churchmen’ (usually in places where Christians are persecuted) or to cap pioneering eminent theological pursuit that contributed to the understanding of God’s great mystery.
 
The desire to have a Cardinal for Mindanao has been a longing for Christians down south. The Metropolitan See of Cebu (at least in two cases: Cardinal Rosales and Cardinal Vidal), like the Metropolitan See of Manila, ‘almost’ entitles the ‘holder’ of the Chair a Red Hat.  

In Mindanao, these metropolitan Sees are Davao, Zamboanga and Cagayan de Oro.  The oldest See in Mindanao is Zamboanga followed by Cagayan de Oro.  This, perhaps, is what people consider as the first level in ‘naming’ Cardinals, especially since the See by tradition is governed by a Cardinal. In the Church reckoning Tradition is counted by 50 years.  Any practice that is below 50 years is NOT considered tradition.
 
When Pope Francis considered naming, for the first time, his first set of Cardinals, the holders of big metropolitan Sees no longer carry that much weight. Some Metropolitans are still included in the 16 Active Cardinals like Westminster (UK), Montreal (Canada), Santiago (Chile), Seoul (South Korea), etc.  What seems important at one time in the life of the Church is no longer  that important in this day and age.  
 
The first consideration and priority of Pope Francis appears to be his intent  to make the Catholic Church truly catholic meaning universal.  His choices of the 16 active cardinals from all parts of the world (less from Europe and the US) follow his act of appointing eight Cardinals outside the Roman Curia to help him govern the Universal Church.
 
The second big thing in the choice seems to be Pope Francis’ desire to mainstream into the Church what seems to be marginal and many people consider least important. This is the special care and solidarity with the poor. Definitely naming cardinals from the Dioceses of Cayes (Haiti), Abidjan, Burkina Fasso and Cotabato is an earth shaking act and it sends clear message to the Universal Church. Their ministries notwithstanding ‘marginal’ or ‘peripheral’ and their places are important for the universal Church!
 
Definitely, there is a common thread that pierces through Abiddjan, Burkina Fasso and Cotabato in Mindanao. These are Muslim majority territories.  The work of interreligious dialogue plays and important role in shaping human community and civilization that is more caring and friendly.  

Dialogue, respect and partnership or simply as common stakeholders to the planet characterize the main thrust in the relationship between and among religions. To this category belongs the important and daring work of Archbishop Orlando B. Quevedo, OMI of Cotabato (Philippines).
 
I am sure Pope Francis is aware of the peace process in Mindanao and the strategic location of the Archdiocese of Cotabato that includes the entire Province of Maguindanao, the whole Province of Sultan Kudarat, Cotabato City and a big slice of Cotabato Province with the Great Pulangi in Pagalungan as the boundary.  The seat of the ARMM is Cotabato City and most likely the seat of the New Political Entity aka as Bangsamoro will also be within the Province of Maguindanao or Cotabato City.
 
Archbishop Quevedo belongs also to a minority that understands the Bangsamoro Question as an issue of injustice to the Bangsamoro - Injustice to their identity; injustice to their sovereignty; and injustice to their ancestral domain.  This is a bold and daring view vis-à-vis the Bangsamoro Question.  These triple injustice almost responds to the triple slogan of the Moro Fronts since the onset of the Moro Revolt in the early 70’s - BANGSA (Identity and Nationhood); HULA (Homeland or Ancestral Domain); and AGAMA (Self-Rule)!
 
By naming Archbishop Quevedo as Cardinal of the Catholic Church, the Pope is conveying a clear message to all sundry and to all people of goodwill that Archbishop Quevedo's ministry and views are important to the Church and should be mainstream!
 
It is NO accident that the first Cardinal for Mindanao is from Cotabato! And it is NO accident also that the first Cardinal of Mindanao is fully involved in the peace process…! There is NO accident in GOD… by naming Archbishop Quevedo as the first Mindanao Cardinal of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis invites us to reflect on the role and place of the minorities in society; and he invites us also to look at each other in all our diversities and pluralism of faiths NO LONGER as enemies or threats to one another but as partners to build a society for all, especially for the poor and together care for our environment. 
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