The newly-elected president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has said he will promote "active dialogue" during his term as head of the collegial body over the next two years. Archbishop Romulo Valles of Davao, who was elected president at the CBCP plenary assembly on July 8, said it is the vision of the country’s Church leaders to pursue dialogue. He takes over from Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan when he finishes his 2-term presidency in December.
Arch. Valles regarded his election as "God’s will". “I look at it with faith that even with all my limitations God must have allowed it, me to be elected as president," the 66-year old prelate told the church-run Radio Veritas. Archbishop Valles said that even through his "smallness" he would be able "to do my job and do the affairs of the conference in a way that could put the glory of God in his church."
Arch. Valles said it is important to pursue dialogue, especially amid the conflict in the southern part of the country where government security forces continue to battle terrorist gunmen. He said the statement released by the bishops at the end of their meeting on July 10 was "encouraging us to engage and put out efforts in promoting dialogue."
The Philippine bishops followed the past tradition of electing the CBCP vice-president as the president. Arch. Valles, a close friend of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, has served as vice president of the conference since December 2013. In a 2016 interview, Archbishop Valles said, "a friendly sharing of ideas would be good" to engage the then newly-elected Duterte. The prelate said he was "always hopeful" that the president, who has condemned the Catholic Church as "the most hypocritical institution," will change. Pope Benedict XVI named the prelate Archbishop of Davao in 2012.
Archbishop Valles will be the 20th head of the 72-year-old collegial body of 83 active bishops, five diocesan administrators, and 43 honorary members of the conference. Conference officials have a two-year term in office, or a total of four to include a second term. If tradition is to be followed, incumbent officials are re-elected for their second and final term. (Source: UCAN)