MANILA, Philippines — Jose Cardinal Advincula vowed to reach out to the poor and the youth which he admitted the church had sometimes paid less attention to, as he formally took over the Archdiocese of Manila on Thursday.
Advincula, who was Capiz archbishop for nearly a decade, was installed at the Manila Cathedral earlier today. The rites were kept simple and had limited attendees following protocols due to the coronavirus pandemic.
He described the health crisis in his homily as a "scourge [that] has crippled us in many ways," but said he would be a shepherd accompanying his sheep "through sorrow and joy."
"It is my ardent desire to listen to all," Advincula said, "but especially to the lambs which represent our youth and other people in the peripheries, because of the less attention given [to] them by the church sometimes."
Pope Francis made Advincula a cardinal in November last year. In March, he put him to task to lead the archdiocese of over three million Catholics and more than 80 parishes.
It makes him the 33rd archbishop of Manila, and the sixth Filipino to hold the position. Before the congregation and those watching in their homes, he confessed to being overwhelmed by the responsibility, along with "restless days and sleepless nights as I confounded my doubts and fears."
The 69-year-old said he never thought of being transferred to another diocese let alone Manila, and was looking forward to spend his remaining days in Capiz.
As he thanked the Capiznon people for his years in the province, he took a moment and appeared to have been moved by emotion. "As I leave you, please do not feel orphaned and shepherdless," he said.
"The pastoral challenge far outweighs the significance of all historic events converging today," the cardinal added, referring to three things: the Pope's declaration of the Year of St. Joseph, his namesake, the 500th year of Christianity in the Philippines, and the 450th founding anniversary of the City of Manila.
He added: "All of us Filipinos are called to take on such a challenge in our respective ministry or area of responsibility, especially for us leaders of our nation and our church."
Among those in attendance were mayors of cities within the archdiocese Isko Moreno of Manila, Abby Binay of Makati, Francis Zamora of San Juan, Menchie Abalos of Mandaluyong, and Emi Rubiano of Pasay.
Before the Mass, he entered the Postigo Gate in the walled city of Intramuros and was welcomed by the local chief executives at the Ayuntamiento de Manila.
Advincula arrives in the archdiocese during the crucial time of COVID-19. Some parishioners told Philstar.com they hope he can help his new people weather the crisis by being a source of hope and inspiration.
His installation fell on the feast day of St. John the Baptist, whom he likened himself to as a mere instrument.
"John was the herald of Christ the Savior," the cardinal said. "[He] laid down his life for such a mission. I believe it also demands nothing less of me."
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