By Robin Gomes
The Catholic bishops of the Philippines have re-elected Archbishop Romulo Valles of Davao as their president.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) reelected the 67-year-old archbishop to a second and final term on Saturday, at the start of its 3-day bi-annual plenary assembly at the Pope Pius XII Catholic Center in Manila.
The CBCP also re-elected Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Kalookan as Vice President, Archbishop John Du as Treasurer and Fr. Marvin Mejia as Secretary General.
Their first term ends on 30 November 2019, and they will continue until 30 November 2021, in their second term.
Archbishop Valles was first elected CBCP head in July 2017, succeeding Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan.
The CBCP is currently composed of 134 members. About 83 bishops, most of them active, are attending the ongoing assembly.
Pope Francis assured his support to the CBCP members as they began their plenary assembly to discuss matters that affect the Church and the country. He also wished their plenary assembly “bear fruit for the benefit of all the faithful in an environment of living communion”.
Towards 2021 Jubilee
The re-election of archbishop Valles makes him a more visible face of the Church as it gears for the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Christianity in the Philippines in 2021, the plans for which are being finalized at the current assembly.
The CBCP has chosen “Gifted to Give” as the theme for the 2021 Jubilee.
Earlier this year, the CBCP held a logo design competition for the celebration, also dubbed as “500YOC”. The winner has yet to be announced.
In 2012, the bishops launched “a nine-year journey for the New Evangelization” with a different theme for each year to prepare the faithful for 2021. Currently, the Philippine Church is observing the Year of the Youth.
Ahead of the plenary assembly, Fr. Mejia said that the plenary assembly would also discuss next year’s theme of ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue.
“The CBCP Commissions on Ecumenical Affairs, Inter-Religious Dialogue, and Indigenous People will be presenting their plans,” he said.
Fr. Mejia said ecology might also get some spotlight during the assembly. The bishops have invited some experts to discuss environmental issues with them.
“There will be a talk on current environmental issues, on what happened to our beautiful land. We need to take look into that,” Fr. Mejia added.
The plenary assembly usually concludes with a pastoral statement by the CBCP.