First time outside Luzon: CBCP holds meet in Cebu
Kristine B. Quintas (The Freeman) - January 22, 2016 - 9:00am

CEBU, Philippines - Around 80 bishops and priests from the different dioceses in the country gathered in Cebu yesterday for the 112th Plenary Assembly of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.

They are expected to tackle the coming elections, the 51st International Eucharistic Congress, among other relevant issues.

This will be first time that the bi-annual gathering of the bishops, the Church’s highest governing body, will be held outside Luzon since the CBCP was established in 1945.

CBCP currently has 131 member bishops, however, 37 of them have already retired.

CBCP president, Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, will preside over the assembly.

He is now on his second and last term as president,

The assembly, which will run until January 24, preceding the 51st International Eucharistic Congress to be held in Cebu from January 24 to 31, kicked off yesterday with a Mass presided by Papal Nuncio to the Philippines, Archbishop Guiseppe Pinto, at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral.

Elections and other issues

Since the May 9 election is just around the corner, the plenary is expected to tackle “principles and guidelines” for the forthcoming polls.

Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, in a press conference after the opening Mass, said elections/voter’s guide for the elections and other concerns about dimensions of Christian life today will be discussed.

“I think there will be statement about forthcoming elections. Probably reiteration of that renewed effort to make our people aware of how important the electoral elections. I’m not privy to exactly what are the details or the discussion proper,” he said.

However, he clarified that coming out with politicians’ names or campaigning for them will not be part of the discussion, stressing that the Church is non-partisan.

He added the discussions will also be centered on the holding of the IEC and other issues related to the congress.

“We are expected to discuss about what’s happening around and relevant in our time,” he said, adding that he can’t elaborate yet on the possible discussion since he was not able to fully attend the planning.

According to a CBCP News post, the bishops are expected to address a host of social issues, apart from internal and church matters.

Different CBCP commissions and offices will give a report on their programs during the assembly.

Palma said whatever will be discussed and decided on during the plenary will be disclosed through a collective statement on pastoral and social issues after their plenary assembly.

IEC

The preparations for the 51st IEC are all set, Palma also said yesterday.

Palma encouraged the public to join the IEC opening Mass at the Plaza Independencia. The Pontifical Mass will be celebrated by Cardinal Maung Bo of Sri Lanka on behalf of Pope Francis who will not be able to attend the IEC.

“This is open to public. So please come,” he asked.

Manila Archbishop Luis Cardinal Tagle will be the congress’ speaker on January 28 at the IEC Pavilion.

A Visita Iglesia or church visit will also be held among parishes in Metro Cebu including the Our Lady of the Sacred Heart in Capitol, Redemptorist Church, Santo Rosario Church, Basilica Minore del Santo Niño, Asilo dela Medalla Milagrosa, Sacred Heart Parish, and the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral. These will also be the venues where the delegates will have encounters with local parishioners. 

On January 29, the delegates will be brought to their foster families as part of the immersion activity while a procession will be held from Capitol to Plaza Independencia in the afternoon.

There will be Masses to be held on January 28 at the Hoops Dome in Lapu-Lapu City and the Capitol building quadrangle on January 29, while the closing ceremony or Statio Orbis will be held at the South Road Properties on January 31.

IEC is an international gathering of people which aims to promote an awareness of the central place of the Eucharist in the life and mission of the Catholic Church, help improve in the understanding and celebration of the liturgy and draw attention to the social dimension of the Eucharist. — /BRP (FREEMAN)

A VISITA IGLESIA ACIRC ARCHBISHOP GUISEPPE PINTO BASILICA MINORE CARDINAL MAUNG BO OF SRI LANKA CATHOLIC CHURCH CEBU CEBU ARCHBISHOP JOSE PALMA CEBU METROPOLITAN CATHEDRAL INTERNATIONAL EUCHARISTIC CONGRESS PLAZA INDEPENDENCIA
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