Supreme Pontiff names Garcera new Lipa bishop

 

LIPA CITY–Pope Francis has appointed Daet Bishop Gilbert Garcera as the new archbishop of Lipa, Vatican said Thursday.

Garcera, 58, will succeed Archbishop Ramon Arguelles, who served the influential post for 13 years.

New Lipa Archbishop Gilbert Garcera, D.D. (photo from CBCPNews)

New Lipa Archbishop Gilbert Garcera, D.D. (photo from CBCPNews)

Archbishop-elect Garcera’s appointment was officially announced in Rome on Thursday at 12 noon (7 pm Manila time), three days after the bishops’ biannual meeting, held in Manila on January 20 to 30.

The pope has accepted Arguelles’ resignation three years ahead of the bishops’ mandatory retirement age of 75.

Arguelles, 72, is one of the most vocal church leaders in the advocacy of protecting the sanctity of life and marriage.

He is infamous for leading the fight against mining, coal-fired power plant and other projects perceived as threats to the Batangas province’s rich environment and natural resources.

The day before his predecessor’s appointment was announced, Arguelles led the a pro-environment prayer rally known as Lakad Dasal from Quezon City Circle to DENR Central  Office in Visayas Avenue, even as he appealed to President Rodrigo Duterte to retain Gina Lopez as head of the environment department.

Arguelles said the Church and anti-mining advocates are fully behind Lopez who is implementing the Duterte administration’s policy of protecting the environment.

It was also Arguelles who issued a Sept. 12, 2015 diocesan decree that the 1948 Marian apparitions at Carmelite convent in Lipa City are authentic. Months later, Prefect Gerhard Cardinal Müller of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith disapproved the Arguelles decree and affirmed the 1951 decision of Pope Pius XII indicating that the apparitions had no supernatural origin.

“Today, (on the) Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the temple, the Day of prayer for Consecrated Life, the new archbishop of Lipa was announced in Rome. I thank God that on the centenary of the monthly 13th day Fatima apparitions, I conclude my 13 years of episcopal ministry in the Archdiocese of Lipa,” Arguelles said in a text message to The Filipino Connection, the day after the Vatican announced the appointment of his successor.

Garcera, who hails from Magarao, Camarines Sur, was ordained priest at the Naga Metropolitan Cathedral at the age of 24. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI appointed him bishop of Daet in 2007, where he served for 10 years before being appointed as archbishop of Lipa.

In 2015, he was also among the six Filipinos out of 270 cardinals and bishops and 18 couples around the world who were allowed by Pope Francis to attend the historic Synod of Bishops on the Family at the Vatican.

He holds a Master’s degree in Theology at the Ateneo de Manila University and a doctorate in Organizational Planning and Development at Southeast Asia Interdisciplinary Development Institute in Antipolo City, Rizal.

Like his predecessor, Garcera, who heads the Philippine Catholic bishops’ Commission on Family and Life, is also advocate of the protection of life and marriage particularly faith-based practice of reproductive health.

At the said commission, Garcera’s Diocese of Daet created an office to attend to the needs of the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender (LGBT) community.

 

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About MARLON ALEXANDER S. LUISTRO