Cebu to have new auxiliary bishop soon
CEBU, Philippines — The vacant position of Cebu’s second auxiliary bishop is now in the works at the Vatican in Rome.
Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma revealed to reporters yesterday that at least 15 candidates, involving priests and bishops across the country, that are considered for the position as replacement to former Cebu auxiliary Bishop Oscar Jaime Florencio, who was recently transferred to another post.
“The process has been done. I am sure Rome must have (already someone) in mind… I am sure there are at least 15 candidates. All throughout the country, the (Apostolic) Nunciature (to the Philippine) has been sending feelers and inquiries,” he told reporters on the sidelines after celebrating the Palm Sunday Mass.
Since it is a huge archdiocese, Cebu is granted of two auxiliary bishops to assist Palma, the chief bishop. Presently, Bishop Dennis Villarojo is holding one of the posts while the other was vacated when Bishop Florencio was appointed in March as the new Military Ordinariate in the Philippines.
In the level of prelates, the pope gets to decide on their appointments.
Palma explained that as part of the process, each of the Filipino bishops has to recommend or suggest names which they deem are “suitable” candidates.
“The role of the bishops, even long before, is to suggest names… As early as newly-ordained bishops, we are already asked to submit names that we consider candidates,” he said.
Palma said the bishops are prohibited from revealing the names neither are they allowed to give hints, such as the place of their current assignment.
“I am not free to (disclose),” he said.
Palma explained that the post as Cebu auxiliary bishop does not have to be replaced by someone who is from Cebu as this is not the rule.
He said he was even from IloIlo while Bishop Florencio was from Leyte, and it just happened that Bishop Villarojo is from Cebu.
After the bishops relay their individual recommendations, the Apostolic Nunciature to the Philippines is tasked to subject these selected candidates to a screening or to a thorough inquiry.
“There may be 30 priests screened. Whenever there is a need they will just pull out (the priest or bishop) and assign somewhere,” said Palma.
“(But they) don’t start screening at the time of the need. They start screening long before and if there is a need they just review what has been screened and they try to find the suitable, as what we call it, the suitable candidate,” he further explained.
In the end, Palma said Pope Francis will grant the final approval on whoever would take over on the vacant position.
He said the bishops won’t even know if they get to be appointed to another assignment not until the pope announces.
“It is Rome that eventually decides. The decision is always up to the pope,” he said. (FREEMAN)