HOLY SEECardinal Quevedo assigned to Pontifical Councils
On 22 May, Pope Francis named the Cardinals he had created on 22 February, 2014, to membership in various congregations and councils of the Holy See. Our Oblate Cardinal Orlando B. QUEVEDO received appointments to the Pontifical Council of Justice and Peace and to the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, both areas where he has gained considerable expertise and experience as Archbishop of Cotobato in the Philippines.
According to the Vatican website, the mandate of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace is summarized in these few words: “The Council will promote justice and peace in the world, in the light of the Gospel and of the social teaching of the Church.”
The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue “is the central office of the Catholic Church for the promotion of interreligious dialogue in accordance with the spirit of the Second Vatican Council, in particular the declaration “Nostra Aetate.” (www.vatican.va)
Fr. Pawel LATUSEK, former provincial of the Polish province, published
an essay on the province’s website (www.oblaci.pl) about the relationship of newly canonized
St. John Paul II and the Oblates. Here are some excerpts from that essay.
A father who was not afraid to express his feelings. It is a tradition that during General Chapters, the participants in those meetings visit the Holy Father. During these official audiences with delegates representing Oblates from around the world, John Paul II always found a way to show us his kindness and affection. During his pontificate, the Oblates held five General Chapters. I recall his words during the first and the fifth. On 5 December 1980, he said: “When I look at your big family my heart is filled with admiration. Because you are missionaries of Christ, Oblates of the Virgin Mary!” Even more poignant was the greeting addressed to the Oblates on 24 September 2004. At that time, since the pope had difficulty speaking, usually one of the curial prelates read the text of the Holy Father’s speech. But before his spokesperson took the microphone, the pope himself spoke words that expressed what was in his heart: “Beloved! I am glad that during the General Chapter of your Institute I can welcome you and assure you of my spiritual closeness in prayer ... Thank you for all the kindness that you show to the Successor of Peter. I reciprocate affectionately and I do so, both because of the devotion I have for your Father Founder, St. Eugene de Mazenod, as well as out of due respect for your Marian and missionary Congregation.”
A father who appreciated our ministry. Speaking to the participants of the General Chapter of 1986, the Holy Father concluded that for 160 years, the Oblates of Mary Immaculate were part of a wonderful chapter in the missionary history of the Church, from the Far North to the Equator. During the same speech, he praised the Chapter’s movement towards a new missionary effort on behalf of the poor of this world and the effort taken for the renewal of community life, which fosters religious and apostolic zeal. He reminded us that this zeal is the key to the problem of priestly and religious vocations, because how could young people knock on the door of communities that are mediocre and immersed in the secular?
Appreciating the good results of Oblate ministry, John Paul II taught us to thank God for it and see it in the context of the whole Church. On 24 September 1998, he told the Oblates: “Together with all of you, I offer thanks to God for the work accomplished by the Oblates. Through your presence on all continents, especially in distant lands, you are in contact with people of different cultures and traditions; it is a sign of the universality of the Church and its concern for all peoples ... The Church appreciates your availability and your willingness to respond to the call of Christ wherever you are sent and to engage in service to the local Churches.”
A father, who was able to trust and delegate important duties. Oblates working in different institutions of the Holy See are a sign of the confidence of John Paul II in the Congregation. It is impossible to list here all of them, but we cannot fail to mention Father Marcello ZAGO, who in the 80’s, was first of all secretary of the Secretariat for Non-Christians, and after 1998, the Secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples; Fr. Joseph METZLER, who was entrusted with responsibility for the Secret Archives of the Vatican; or Fr. Joseph KUC, who for several years was rector of the Pontifical Missionary College in Rome.
As an unmistakable expression of papal confidence, some Oblates were also named bishop. At this point, I would like to recall an event told me by our former Father General, the late Archbishop Marcello Zago. During one of the many meetings he had with the Holy Father, he was asked about the activities of the Congregation. At some point, the conversation turned to topics related to the growth of the Institute and new vocations. The pope asked whether the downward trend in members and vocations had ceased. Father General said with regret that due to the lack of vocations, the downward trend continued, except for one: the ratio of bishops was going up for some time! The Holy Father nodded and replied: “Well, bishops, I can still add, but giving vocations is beyond my competence.” Indeed, episcopal appointments during his pontificate were many. Among the members of Congregation, John Paul II appointed 36 bishops (one of them was a cardinal), two Apostolic Prefects and 1 mission superior “sui juris.”
A father who gave gifts. Unquestionably the most valuable gift that John Paul II gave to the Congregation was his confidence in the Oblates, entrusting them with important responsibilities in the Church. He gave us the gift of an audience, as a group during General Chapters and sometimes individually, with the exchange of a few sentences, a rosary and a commemorative photo. However, the gift to the Congregation that will last forever, and therefore a most valuable gift for each Oblate, was proclaiming our Founder, Eugene de Mazenod, a saint, and the beatification of Fathers Joseph Gerard and Joseph Cebula. (Pawel Latusek)