Heartily welcomed and congratulated, Archbishop Romulo G. Valles (Yanong Muloy) is now in Davao after the CBCP’s plenary assembly in Manila where he was elected president. Here is a point of view from MR. JOHN TRIA, an anchor and a mission partner of DXGN 89.9 Spirit FM who happens to be a writer also for a national newspaper, Manila Bulletin.
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As he slowly takes over as president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines by December 1, Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles takes over the helm of the shepherd of the country’s almost 80 million Catholics at a time when faith, as a whole faces severe tests.
It is the changing of the guard in more ways than we can imagine. Taking over from the Manila-bred Socrates Villegas, Bishop “Muloy,” as he is fondly referred to, once served as archbishop of Zamboanga, and bears decades of experience as the leader of Mindanao’s flocks engulfed in long-standing conflict, deep in poverty despite relative natural wealth, and away from the peddling and trading of political influence in more cosmopolitan Manila.
As a frontier priest, he brings with him a folksiness honed by years in the “bukid,” and an articulate, pragmatic theological grounding tempered by the compassion for people who do not share the same faith, in a Catholic Church that is not the clear majority, nor has cultural or political sway on the daily lives of the various cultures in his diocese, at least not as much as his Luzon counterparts.
His ways are honed in the need for a grassroots church, where faith is shared and shines in smaller, humbler spaces, unlike the large cathedrals and affluent and influential constituencies whose sensibilities require constant pleasing.
This is a man unafraid to be his congenial yet at times frank self in front of others. He is equally comfortable with the high-minded and moneyed, and with those with less as well as the lost. His homilies bring theology down to individual hearts, encouraging even the cynical to look through love’s eyes, build a critical conscience, and cultivate an alternative viewpoint. This is all daunting when you consider our differences.
With this, he enjoys the strong respect of Imams and non-Catholic pastors, and bears the credibility needed to spark important and necessary dialogue to foster the kind of critical unity we need in the time of threats like illegal drugs and ISIS terrorism. His recent visit to Muslim areas of Davao to greet them on the end of Ramadhan illustrate that warmth.
Perhaps in the man we find the kind of prelate we need, to help us discover deeper meaning in today’s confusions, comfort amid strife, and grace behind the pain.
Upon his election as CBCP president, he brings all of these to bear personifies the call of the President in last year’s SONA, “Let us not hate each other too much.”
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Thank you John. ‘Til next week’s kwentuhan higala. Email your kwento at firstname.lastname@example.org before Monday at 5pm. Tune in to #knot sa radyo via DXGN from 1-3 PM, Monday to Friday – Cheng