Why Archbishop Jose Palma deserves to be a cardinal

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez (The Freeman) - November 21, 2020 - 12:00am

The appointment of a cardinal is not a political contest like that of Biden and Trump, but a result of contemplative papal discernment, after a very rigid screening process. We trust that the Roman Curia, of which our own Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle is a prominent member, has ample reason why Cebu is bypassed (apologies for that word), in the scheme of Vatican decision-making.

The whole Philippine Catholic laity rejoiced upon the knowledge that Archbishop Jose Advincula of Capiz has been chosen by the pope to receive the cardinal's red hat one week from today, on November 28, 2020. While we do not wish to detract from his excellent qualifications, I am just wondering why the more senior, with a jurisdiction that is five times bigger, Archbishop Jose Palma, is not given such an elevation. To the best knowledge of more than four million Catholics under his pastoral care, he has all the qualifications and none of the disqualifications. Whoever gave any false information against him, may he be forgiven by the Father.

I learned from former Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. about the outstanding performance of our archbishop, especially in strengthening the basic ecclesiastic communities. Davide is an outstanding Catholic who was awarded by a special papal decree by Pope Benedict XVI in 2011, one of the highest honors conferred by the Holy See, the Knight Grand Cross of the Pontifical Order of St. Sylvester. Davide was also appointed, after his Supreme Court retirement, as permanent ambassador extraordinary plenipotentiary to the United Nations. Davide has all words of admiration for Palma, and he seldom utters such glowing platitudes. He didn’t know that I was going to write this piece.

Dr. Jose Dodong Gullas, an eminent pillar of the Catholic faith, and also a papal awardee, has very good words about Palma I have a first-degree cousin who is a retired monsignor, Rolando Abad Jimenez, who admires Palma as a pastor, mentor, and leader. All testimonies I heard are positive. Palma is described as hardworking and focused on his work, without thinking about ranks and promotions. In fact, his coat of arms bears this Latin passage in Psalm 115:1, which says: Non Nobis Domine or Not To Us, O Lord. In other words, like the prophet Jeremiah, like Moses, and many other prophets, Palma isn’t self-centered or self-seeking. He’s just a silent worker in the vineyard of the Lord. Be that as it may, and even with more reason, we should pray he receives the red hat before March 2021

He has had a long and successful pastoral leadership here in Cebu, since October 15, 2010 and in the archdiocese of Palo, Leyte, from October 18, 2006 up to his transfer to Cebu. He was president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines from 2011 to 2013. He started in as assistant parish priest at Jaro Cathedral in Iloilo and he taught in his alma mater, the St. Vincent Ferrer Seminary. He became a rector of that seminary, then regional rector of St. Joseph Regional Seminary in Jaro. He studied in Rome and obtained his Doctorate of Divinity. He is eminently qualified. I hope he will be called and chosen.

I understand, of course, that to be a cardinal is a grace of God, not to be aspired for or expected. It’s like our salvation. It’s not our qualifications or our good work; it’s by the grace of God. But for our dear archbishop, this doesn’t stop the four million faithful in Cebu from praying for a red hat. He will be pleasing in the eyes of the Lord.


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