[Closing Remarks: Tribute to Abp. Fernando Capalla, June 18, 2012]
Most Rev. Fernando R. Capalla, DD, Archbishop Emeritus of the Archdiocese of Davao,
Most Rev. Romulo Valles, DD, Archsbishop of the Archdiocese of Davao,
Our prayer leaders, Fr. Erwin Torres, Mr. Ustaza Alia Macatampo, and Mr. Rimo Espaniola,
Fr. Daniel McNamara, S.J., the rector of the ADDU Jesuit Community,
Prof. Alih Ayoub Secretary General of the National Ulama Council,
Pastor Roger Lofranco of the United Church of Christ of the Philippines,
Members of the academic Community of the ADDU, Mr. Bobby Orig, Chair of the Board of Trustees, the other members of the Board, especially the organizing members of the Theology Department and the Al Qalam Institute, distinguished guests, friends,
Ladies and Gentlemen:
When we were considering how we might honor our outgoing Archbishop of Davao, we thought the most appropriate manner would be to pay tribute to God in a manner that was dear to his heart. That is how this celebration of Interfaith prayer was organized, in tribute to God for having gifted not only the Catholic Community, but also the Muslim, the Lumad, and the Protestant Christian communities with this extraordinary Man whose faith in his God was so strong, he became a witness to the light of God’s Power and Truth in the diversity of other believers’ faiths. His faith in God was so strong, he sought understanding where there was anger and rancor, he labored for peace where there was violence and war.
We are happy that while he has been succeeded as Archbishop of Davao by the Most Rev. Romulo Valles, he shall be continuing his labors in the pursuit of unity and peace, and while he could have gone to reside in other places in the Philippines, he has sought to stay his in Davao.
All the easier for him to help guide and light our paths to peace! For there is truly much that has to be done. Together, we have yet to re-present the history of Mindanao not from the viewpoints of the conquerors and what has been described as “Imperial Manila,” but from the viewpoint of the peoples of Mindanao, re-assessing and re-appreciating the relationship between the Christian evangelizers, the Christian settlers, the Muslim Community and the Lumad Communities.
We have to re-assess our acceptance the values and maxims of the Global Culture as they impact on our own shared Philippine Culture as well as the diverse cultures of our peoples of Mindanao. We have to understand how we can support resilient minority communities, secure in their self-identity, yet open to benefit from and contribute to the global world. Here, we must grow in understanding how we can grow in our faith, even as we remain open to divine light coming from other faiths, and support women and men of other faiths to grow in their faith according to their own conscience and rights in religious liberty..
We have to find fresh energy for the promotion of justice, where persons and groups of persons are given what is their due, too easily abandoned today by a sort of battle fatigue and a numbness relative to the pervasiveness of poverty due to injustice. Especially in our rich diversity of cultures, where our brand of corruption is described as endemic to culture, we have to re-commit ourselves to social justice based on a keen sensitivity to the power of cultures to fossilize injustice, and the role of religions in nurturing culture – even when it is unjust. At the same time, we must appreciate the nexus between the promotion of justice and the faith. “Action on behalf of justice and participation in the transformation of the world fully appear to us as a constitutive dimension of the preaching of the Gospel, or in other words, of the Church’s mission of redemption for the human race and its liberation from every oppressive situation” (Synod of Bishops, 1971, #6). I believe this sentiment may be shared with persons of other faiths.
So much to do. We praise the Lord for Archbishop Capalla who through his own quiet witness has helped us to see what yet has to be done. This is an agenda that is quite different from earlier attitude of “conquer the Moro” and “eliminate the Lumad” and “declare the Protestants anathema.” It is quite different from the attitude, “We have the truth, and you don’t.”
Through the life witness of Archbishop Capalla may we be inspired ourselves in our clear diversity to be promoters of peace, supporters of dialogue and of workers for unity in our blessed land – no matter the cost.