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Bacolod City, Philippines Tuesday, August 9, 2016
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TIGHT ROPE
WITH MODESTO P. SA-ONOY

Bacolod challenges

Tightrope

We welcome the new Bishop of Bacolod, the Most Reverend Patricio A. Buzon, STB, DD who will be installed today at the San Sebastian Cathedral, the seat and primary church of the Diocese of Bacolod.

The installation is historic not only because we have a new pastor of the Church in Negros but because this is the first time that so many prelates of the Catholic Church are participating and witnessing a great moment.

Latest report say the Papal Nuncio, Most Reverend Guiseppe Pinto. is ill cannot attend but will be represented by the next in rank in the Nunciature, the First Secretary. The Nuncio as the delegate of Pope Francis who appointed Bishop Buzon would have installed the new Bishop of Bacolod.

There will be a lot of color and pageantry and symbolism that reflects the centuries-old traditions in the Church since the bishop is a direct successor of the Apostles.

Bishop Buzon succeeds Bacolod Bishop Vicente M. Navarra who retired and is now officially called ‘emeritus”, a term indicating that the person had already completed his term of office and had retired. The retirement age of bishops is 75 years though they could not leave their posts until the Holy Father has appointed their successors.

Bishop Navarra is now residing in Domus Dei, the retirement home for priests in the Diocese of Bacolod in Hacienda Maquina, just a few kilometers from the center of Silay City. He had been instrumental in the founding of this retirement community and has a relatively comfortable home there, free from worries and polluted air of Bacolod.

Coincidentally Bishop Buzon succeeded Bishop Emeritus Navarra as Bishop of Kabankalan in 2003 and now takes over from him. This is significant.

When Bacolod Bishop Camilo Gregorio resigned on September 2, 2000, then Bishop of Kabankalan Navarra was appointed Apostolic Administrator of Bacolod pending the appointment of the regular bishop. He thus remained Bishop of Kabankalan until May 24, 2001 when he was appointed Bishop of Bacolod. He left Kabankalan under an Apostolic Administrator to await Bishop Buzon who was appointed on Feb. 19, 2003.

Bishop Navarra took over from Bishop Gregorio at the time of difficulties in the Bacolod diocese, a cleavage among the clergy. Since Bishop Navarra was just nearby he was aware of the problems and challenges of the Bacolod diocese as well as of the province.

Bishop Buzon comes to Bacolod with a clergy that is united, thanks to the skill of his predecessor who walked the tightrope but was able to stabilize the diocese and did great works especially in defending the faith and making the Church closer to the people.

Bishop Navarra visited every nook and corner of his diocese, a real pastor of the flock. I heard of an old woman who shed tears that she finally saw a bishop in person. He faced the challenge of the attempt of the government to violate human life and despite the virulent criticisms, even from some of his clergy, Bishop Navarra stood and defended the faith and won.

He retires with a sense of fulfillment.

There are new challenges left for Bishop Buzon. There are no more agrarian and labor problems that divided the Church and the clergy and the faithful that the late Bishop Antonio Fortich had to face. Nor is there among the clergy that broke the heart of many and affected Bishop Gregorio.

Bishop Buzon will have greater challenge with the change of the government policy in relation to the value of human life, the sanctity and indissolubility of marriage and the effort to disgrace the Church with accusations dating back to the 16 th century.

These challenges can be divisive so that Bacolod pastor will have to protect its flock against the ravages of wolves. He must be strong and yet compassionate, firm and yet skillful and open to new ideas and approaches and capable of mobilizing the faithful because the enemies are insidious and fired with the belief they are the new gods.

The faith of the flock in their pastor will be tested; demands to yield even on matters of doctrine will be tough. Early on, Bishop Buzon will be watched closely by the enemies of the Church and the skeptics within.

The Church had always stood firm against all odds and challenges because her Founder promised, “the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” Even so we need a steady hand.*

           

 

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