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New bishop of Cotabato installed amid security threats

COTABATO CITY (UCAN): Archbishop Angelito Lampon of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate succeeded Orlando Cardinal Quevedo as the head the Archdiocese of Cotabato, Mindanao, on January 30. 
The installation ceremony took place amid tight security following the bombing of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Jolo, Sulu province, three days prior. At least 21 people were killed and 97 others wounded in the January 27 attack (Sunday Examiner, February 10). People had to go through a security cordon around the cathedral while soldiers and policemen were deployed around the church and in nearby areas to ensure security.
Archbishop Lampon led the Vicariate of Jolo from 1997 until he was named the new head of the Archdiocese of Cotabato in November 2018.
“My heart is bleeding for my people, we have known them for 21 years, they became my family,” the teary-eyed archbishop said in an interview.
“It’s a big emotional upheaval inside and yet my faith tells me to continue extending the hand of friendship,” Archbishop Lampon told journalists following his installation.
He said he would continue working for inter-religious dialogue even as he admitted that it has been difficult to understand the violence.
In his homily during the ceremony, Cardinal Quevedo said one must be “spirit-filled and spirit-driven” to be an effective bishop. 
The cardinal, who headed the archdiocese for two decades, endured one of the world’s longest-running Muslim insurgencies.
He said that only when a bishop is “in communion with the Holy Spirit, only when the Spirit dwells in him, will he be a prophet with courage, without fear, in season and out of season.”
In a region marred by tension and insecurity, he said that a shepherd must bring hope to people “who look for light in a cultural darkness and mutual biases and prejudices. He must lead his flock and those who are not of his flock to peace and harmony,” Cardinal Quevedo said.
He expressed sadness over the attack in Jolo, saying that the bombing was “a call to sobriety, a call to mutual collaboration, and not to be diffusive and confrontational.”
“It is a call to unity in diversity, (which is) the foundation of our essential values (of) respect for one another,” the cardinal said.
In his message, Archbishop Gabriele Caccia, papal nuncio to the Philippines, conveyed Pope Francis’ support for Archbishop Lampon and his pastoral ministry. 
“You are not alone. We are with you, all of us,” the pope’s envoy said.

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