Tribute to Archbishop Fernando Capalla

[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.

About Joel Tabora, S.J.

Jesuit. Educator
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2 Responses to Tribute to Archbishop Fernando Capalla

  1. Pax Christi says:

    We, from the Christian community, praise the man who became an instrument of Christian peace and understanding here in Mindanao by opening the doors of the Roman Church into a dialogue that focused on love as brothers and sisters in God, our Father, through the same Christ we worship, and in truth as revealed through the Holy Scriptures and understood through the Holy Spirit. It is through the mystery of the Trinity that we continually uphold the works started by the former Roman Catholic Archbishop Capalla, different Persons but one God. We may be divided because of the human weaknesses of the faithful from past to present, but we are baptized into one mission, to bring Christ to the world and give to them, through words and works, the Good News of Christ. Let us continue, dear Brother Joel, to work hand in hand with enthusiasm and let our differences in tradition be put aside for the sake of unity, for even the Great Saints Peter and Paul clashed so that the truth of the non-discriminatory message of our Faith be established to the Jews and Gentiles alike. Let us be true to our Faith and loyal to our Lord, the Prince of Peace. Let Ateneo be an instrument to this great Christian cause. Let it start in Davao and in Mindanao, the melting pot of a united Faithful. Let us use God’s gift of a formidable university to bring the presence of holiness in our beloved home. Let us work together to bring the Filipino people out of the bondage of Sin which is embedded in our very culture and let us nurture the faith of the people so that they may experience the fruits of the Faith in Christ, which does not start after we die (salvation) but here while we are living (redemption). Let us continue the warm feeling of ecumenism brought by the papacies of John XXIII and John Paul II. Let it be done for the sake of Christ and not for the glory of our religion because beyond the efforts of men in knowing God is the grace brought only by Faith and Faith alone. May God bless Archbishop-Emeritus Capalla to his new mission and may he be blessed with a more healthy body, a wiser mind and stronger Faith for the greater glory of God. May God bless you too, Fr. Joel as you lead a university that God will use even beyond your wildest expectations. Pax Christi!

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