EPISCOPAL COUNCIL MEETS, ELECTS TWO NEW BISHOPS
The regular meeting of the Supreme Council of Bishops (SCB) was called to order by its Chairperson, the Rt. Reverend Vic Esclamado, who warmly welcomed the venerable body amidst a heavy downpour on May 7, 2009. The bishops, who came in spite of the intermittent weather condition, gathered for their three-day meeting in Tagaytay City, Province of Cavite, from May 7 to 9, 2009.
The Obispo Maximo, the Most Reverend Godofredo J. David, stressed in his message to the bishops the importance of their meeting as a “precious opportunity to come together in brotherly consultation as a Council” given the many issues that currently challenges the Church. He exhorted the Council to consistently “safeguard the unity of the Church and to instruct God’s people in the faith” as part of its role in making the Iglesia Filipina Independiente a living and witnessing Church in the world.
The Council seriously discussed the status of bishops who have either opted to take a leave of absence or voluntarily resigned from the ministry. The faculties of bishops under such cases have been declared by the Council to be temporarily withdrawn. Their privileges and rights to participate in the affairs of the Council are declared suspended, as well, for the time being.
The Council is saddened that there are, at present, quite a large number of dioceses that are without bishops. The absence of episcopal leadership in some dioceses is a long overdue problem. The Council nevertheless expressed optimism with the election of two new bishops which they hope would help to address the situation of episcopal vacancies.
The two new bishops-elect are Reverend Alger Loyao and Reverend Rudy Juliada. Reverend Loyao was elected to the Diocese of Masbate in the Visayas, while Reverend Juliada was elected to the Diocese of Libertad in Mindanao. The schedule of their consecration is still to be determined.
The need for more bishops prompted the Council to speed up the actions of the National Search Committee (NSC). The NSC, headed by the Right Reverend Ephraim Fajutagana, is the body that is responsible for the selection of qualified candidates to the episcopacy. The NSC reported that there are about forty new endorsees from the different dioceses. The NSC is expected to come up with a final list of endorsees in July 2009 after making a thorough and complete examination of the endorsees.
The Supreme Council of Bishops held a Memorial Mass for the Most Reverend Gregorio L. Aglipay, the first Obispo Maximo, in commemoration of his 149th birth anniversary on May 8. The Council also had an initial plan to spearhead a nationally-coordinated activity in commemoration of Bishop Aglipay’s 150th birth anniversary in May 2010.