States Dinner Remarks
Most Reverend Jose S. Palma
Archbishop of Cebu
President, Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines
San Antonio, Texas
August 6, 2013
On behalf of 128 bishops who are members of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines and of the 707 Councils with 37, 324 members of the Knights of Columbus in our country, I feel privileged to participate in this 131st Supreme Convention of the Knights of Columbus and to greet all of you - Mabuhay!
I would like to take this occasion to sincerely thank the Knights of Columbus all over the world for the many projects, educational and relief assistance, social welfare and other expressions of charitable works rendered as expressions of solidarity and service. I personally thank the K of C for their undying support for the Philippine Church especially in their participation during the canonization of St. Pedro Calungsod last October 21, 2012, in Rome and Thanksgiving Mass celebration last November 30, 2012 at the South Reclamation Project in Cebu, City, Philippines.
These past years the Knights of Columbus Fraternal Association of the Philippines, Inc. (KCFAPI) has been consistently supporting the CBCP apostolate with the disparity of ten million pesos amounting to 800,000 pesos and this year it was raised to 1 million.
In a special way, we find the K of C most zealous in the defense for life and in our advocacy for the protection of marriage especially in the Philippines where Reproductive Health Law has just been approved. CBCP and K of C are united in our stand against RH Law. We uphold the sanctity of life in the spirit expressed by Former Senator Francisco S. Tatad, in his opening statement at the Oral Argument vs. the RH Law before the Supreme Court en Banc last July 9, 2013: “The State cannot function as the protector of the unborn on the one hand, and as the source of contraception on the other; it cannot be the protector and the preventer of conception at the same time.”
With K of C, we look forward to celebrating the 51st International Eucharistic Congress in Cebu, Philippines on January 25-31, 2016. With the theme “Christ in You, Our Hope of Glory” (Col. 1:27), there is even more reasons to be hopeful. At this time, may I already invite you for the forthcoming Congress. Also in our preparation for the fifth centenary of the advent of Christianity with the nine year journey for the new Evangelization that we charted, we pray we can make a fitting commitment. Once again we are reminded of our pastoral priorities thus: Integral Faith Formation (2013); Laity (2014); the Poor (2015); The Eucharist and the Family (2016); the parish as Communion of Communities (2017); the Clergy and Religious (2018); the Youth (2019); Ecumenism and Inter-Religious Dialogue (2020); Missio ad gentes (2021).
Let me also assure you of our prayerful support in the cause for beatification of Fr. Michael J. McGivney, whom Pope Benedict XVI declared "Venerable" in March 2008. We also support the cause for beatification of Fr. George J. Willmann who is referred to as the “Fr. McGivney of the Philippines” because of his selfless dedication for the growth of the Order. He spent 44 years of his life to reach out and serve the poor, the sick, the orphans and the desolate in the spirit of charity, unity, fraternity and patriotism. According to a K of C member Architect Pablo Panlilio, “One major accomplishment of Fr. Willmann is the bringing back of prominent persons in the government who became masons to be active again in the K of C.”
As we face the future confronted with poverty, unemployment and threats to peace, we put our trust in the Lord. Together with Pope Francis, we declare: “And now, we take up this journey: Bishop and people. This journey of the Church of Rome which presides in charity over all Churches. A journey of fraternity, of love, of trust among us. Let us always pray for one another. Let us pray for the whole world, that there may be a great spirit of fraternity” (CTS p. 20).