"The rite of installation of a new bishop is a simple but significant moment in the life of a diocese."
\On June 24 this coming week, the archdiocese of Manila, the most pre-eminent ecclesiastical circumscription in the Philippines, will receive its 33rd archbishop. Before a bishop can fully exercise the rights and duties of his office, he must first “take canonical possession” of this diocese and be “installed” in his new office.
Canon law requires that the newly appointed if already ordained a bishop as in the case of Cardinal Jose Advincula, take possession of their diocese within two months from the date of appointment. If the new bishop has not been yet consecrated a bishop, the waiting period may be extended—for three months for him to receive episcopal ordination, that is to be “made a bishop” and for four months for him to take canonical possession of the diocese.
The rite of installation of a new bishop is a simple but significant moment in the life of a diocese. This usually happens in the cathedral of the diocese. In the case of Cardinal Advincula’s installation later this week, it will be celebrated in Manila’s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Intramuros.
During the ceremony, the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Charles Brown, will present the pope’s apostolic letter of appointment to the clergy and laity of the archdiocese. The presence of the papal representative in the country underscores the Church’s universality, and its links of communion with the pope in Rome. After the same document is read and confirmed by a representative of the clergy, normally the chancellor of the diocese, the Apostolic Nuncio will then “install” the new archbishop—and the he is then seated in the “cathedra” or the bishop’s chair, symbolizing that he has now taken possession of the diocese.
After the “seating of the bishop,” the new archbishop will preside for the first time, in his new archbishop, over the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, highlighting the fact that the bishop is the chief shepherd and high priest of the archdiocese.
The installation of Cardinal Advincula, who was appointed archbishop of Manila on March 25 this year, will culminate more than 16 months of “sede vacante” or vacancy in the archdiocese of Manila, which happened with the appointment of Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle as prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples in the Vatican in 2019.
The appointment of Cardinal Advincula to the first archdiocese in the country brings to mind the memory of the late Cardinal Jaime Sin, who like the former, was born from the island of Panay. He also spent his years of seminary formation at the Saint Pius X Seminary in Roxas City, where Cardinal Sin served as its first rector.
Unlike his predecessors, the new archbishop, however, arrives in Manila already a cardinal, having been raised to the cardinalate in November last year. Due to travel restrictions resulting from the continuing coronavirus pandemic, Cardinal Advincula was unable to attend the consistory in Rome, and instead he received his red biretta and ring from the Apostolic Nuncio in the Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Roxas City, the “cathedra” of his current role as Archbishop of Capiz.
His more than 40 years of ministry to the Catholic Church in the Philippines started in his ordination to the priesthood in 1976, serving as rector of his alma mater, the Saint Pius X Seminary in Capiz, and later on as bishop of San Carlos City in Negros Occidental.
Health restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic have prevented the usual crowds from welcoming its new archbishop. To ensure the fullest participation of everyone in the archdiocese, a series of liturgies have been scheduled at the Manila Cathedral. On June 25, Cardinal Advincula will celebrate the mass with lay representatives from the parishes, faith movements, organizations and the youth sector of the archdiocese. On June 26, he will preside over the solemn celebration of Evening Prayer with the consecrated men and women working the archdiocese.
Representatives of the laity and consecrated persons usually participate in the installation rite, but the prevailing cap on public gatherings have limited the number of persons allowed to be present in the cathedral. All of the said liturgical celebrations will be streamed online and broadcast on television.
The installation of the 33rdarchbishop of the country’s capital city, however, will not be without the traditions unique to the archdiocese. Cardinal Advincula, for one, will be formally welcomed by the mayor of Manila, Francisco Moreno Domagoso at the Postigo Gate, which was used exclusively by the Archbishops of Manila and governor general during the Spanish occupation. A civil reception ceremony will then follow at the Ayuntamiento, which presently stands at the site of the old city hall of Manila.
Interestingly, the installation of Manila’s new archbishop will happen on the Solemnity of Saint John the Baptist, traditionally considered Manila’s patron saint, and the annual observance of “Araw ng Manila” the day of Manila’s founding anniversary. The Archdiocese of Manila was created in 1579 as a diocese and elevated as a metropolitan archdiocese in 1595.
With his installation, Cardinal Advincula will now become the shepherd of Catholics living in the cities of Manila, Makati, Mandaluyong, Pasay, and San Juan. He will also serve as metropolitan to the suffragan dioceses of Novaliches, Parañaque, Cubao, Kalookan, and Pasig – all in the National Capital Region, and the four surrounding dioceses of Imus, Antipolo, Malolos, and San Pablo.
“Audiam.” I will listen. Cardinal Advincula’s episcopal motto speaks significantly about his pastoral approach in ministering to his new flock as archbishop of Manila. As one of more low-key bishops in the Catholic Church in the Philippines, the new archbishop is expected to shift the focus on the grassroots, allow for greater dialogue and consultation with the clergy and laity and build new parishes and missions especially in underserved communities, pastoral priorities that he has previously undertaken in his past assignments in Negros and Capiz. Even his unexpected elevation to the cardinalate indicates Pope Francis’ preference for bishops “who are pastoral,” caring for their flock and acting like “shepherds who smell like sheep.”
With his appointment to the country’s capital city, Cardinal Advincula is expected to reveal to the country’s Catholic faithful the face of a listening and discerning Church, fitting for the difficult times of crisis that we now face.