Cardinal Rosales turns 75 on Aug. 10,

Cardinal Rosales turns 75 on Aug. 10,
Pope tells him to stay on as Manila Archbishop

On August 10, Manila Archbishop Gaudencio B. Cardinal Rosales will be 75 years old, the mandatory age for retirement of bishops in the Catholic Church. But after he submitted the customary resignation to the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI, the Pope has responded by inviting him “to continue in your ministry ‘donec aliter provideatur’ (unless otherwise provided for).

(According to Church Canon 401 § 1, bishops submit their resignation to the Holy Father when they reach 75 years old.)

The response of the Holy Father was relayed by Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for the Bishops, in a communication to the Apostolic Nunciature in the Philippines. Fr. Reginald Malicdem, secretary of the Manila Archbishop, read the letters of Cardinal Rosales to the Holy Father and of the Apostolic Nunciature at the Mass for an advance celebration of his birthday with the Manila clergy at the Arzobispado de Manila on August 8.

It is the only celebration that Cardinal Rosales agreed to after expressing the wish that he be allowed to “disappear on his birthday and for a week thereafter for much-longed for moments of looking back and prayerful reflections on his life and ministry.

Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, Archbishop of Cebu, delivered the homily during the mass, and paid tribute to “Cardinal Dency” as “someone who has offered a new vision not only for Manila but also for the Philippines.” He also enjoined his confrere not to retire “so he won’t be alone.” Cardinal Vidal turned 75 more than a year ago, and has also been invited by the Holy Father to continue with his ministry. Also celebrating the Mass were Bishops Antonio Tobias of Novaliches, Bishop Honesto Ongtioco of Cubao, Bishop Luis Antonio Tagle of Imus, Bishop Rey Evangelista of Boac, Bishop Pedro Arigo of the Puerto Princesa, Manila Auxiliary Bishop Bernardino Cortez, Antipolo Auxiliary Bishop-elect Francis de Leon, the Manila clergy and priests from the Archdiocese of Lipa.

In his letter to the Holy Father dated June 10, 2007, Cardinal Rosales thanked him and “the Holy Mother the Church for having granted me the privilege of serving the Church as Bishop.” He said that his 33 years as Bishop and Archbishop “have shown me the unfailing grace of a loving God” and were also filled with difficult moments” and “rewarding times” in his Episcopal ministry in the Diocese of Malaybalay (Bukidnon) and the Archdioceses of Lipa and Manila.”

He told the Holy Father that he was submitting his resignation earlier, to “allow the proper selection of the Archbishop who will succeed” him. He said that his release from “tremendous responsibilities (of being Archbishop) will most likely be spent in much prayer, reflections and probably writing.” However, he said, “these are personal plans and my obedience to the laws and traditions of the Church. I place my entire self ever in God’s will and Your Holiness’ pleasure.”

The Apostolic Nunciature conveyed the response of the Holy Father in a letter dated July 12, 2007. Msgr.Wojciech Zaluski, Chargé d’ Affaires, said that it was being conveyed so that “you can bring it to the knowledge of the entire Archdiocese and continue in your pastoral service in this particular Church, leaving to the Holy Father the decision when to appoint your successor.”

To celebrate the birthday of its Archbishop, the Archdiocese of Manila, designated August 10, 2007 as a “Special Day for the Poor.”

In a circular, Manila Auxiliary Bishops Benardino Cortez and Broderick Pabillo, asked each parish/community to honor the poor in a way it thinks best and what the poor would regard as a “birthday treat.” “It can be a fellowship, an agape highlighted by the sharing of bread (food) and the celebration of the Eucharist. It can be a whole day of social services: free clinic, livelihood training, feeding of children, gift-giving. Let it be truly a special day for them, a gift to the Cardinal,” the bishops said.

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