By Vatican News staff writer
Pope Francis on Sunday surprised everyone announcing the names of 13 new cardinals from around the world. The new status of these candidates will be formalized at a consistory in the Vatican on November 28, he said.
Among the new cardinals is Philippine Archbishop Jose Fuerte Advincula of Capiz, in the central Visayas region. The 68-year old archbishop had earlier been Bishop of San Carlo for 10 years until his transfer to Capiz in 2011.
When news went around that he was among the 13 new cardinals nominated by the pope, Archbishop Advincula thought it could be someone other "Jose" and reporters must have got the surname wrong. But he later came to terms with the truth.
“I think it is a feeling of resignation,” he told Vatican News on Tuesday, two days after the pope's announcement. “Although I’m a bit happy because of the honour,” he said, “I’m also afraid because of the responsibilities.”
The Church cares for the peripheries
Regarding the Pope's choice of the pastor of Capiz, a lesser-known diocese compared to larger and more prominent ones, Archbishop Advincula sought to explain the Holy Father’s thoughts. The 68-year old cardinal-designate pointed out that he has worked in 3 rural dioceses as a priest and bishop. Speaking with his fellow bishops and priests, he came to the conclusion that “perhaps the Holy Father really wanted to communicate to the people in the peripheries that they too are being attended to by the Church”.
He added that a priest friend noted that it might be because he “had been establishing mission stations and mission schools in far-flung places”, firstly in San Carlos Diocese and then in Capiz.
“I always thought that the Church has to be closer to the people, especially those that are in the peripheries,” Archbishop Advincula pointed out. “So,” he explained, “this might be a way the Holy Father wants to convey to the people the presence of the Church in the peripheries.”
Human dignity and rights
Besides establishing mission stations and a school in the rural Philippines, the Archbishop of Capiz feels the Church in the country also needs to ensure that the human dignity and human rights of the people are respected. This commitment helps in the alleviation of poverty because he believes “poverty is one of the reasons why we have social problems”.
In this regard, “education is the way to develop the people so that they can earn more in order to live a more decent life”. Archbishop Advincula believes these could have been some of the reasons why Pope Francis chose him to be a cardinal.