First chairman of CBCP-BEC Committee Elevated Cardinal

On February 22, 2014, Archbishop Orlando Quevedo was created cardinal by Pope Francis during the consistory in the Vatican. Cardinal Quevedo is the archbishop of Cotabato and has been promoting the formation of BECs since he was bishop of Kidapawan in the mid-1980s. The BECs in Kidapawan became one of the most highly developed and organized communities in the country. He continued to support and promote BECs in his diocese in spite the persecution and repression of these communities under the Marcos dictatorial in which some their leaders were imprisoned and even murdered (martyred).  As archbishop of Nueva Segovia (Vigan) he also initiated the formation of BECs in the archdiocese and integrated BEC in the seminary formation. As president of CBCP, Cardinal Quevedo  organized the first CBCP sponsored National BEC Assembly in Cebu in 2005. He was instrumental in the creation of CBCP-BEC Committee. After his term as president of CBCP, archbishop Quevedo was elected as the first chairman of the newly-formed CBCP-BEC Committee (2005-2008) and built the BEC office at the 3rd floor of the CBCP building in Intramuros.  As secretary-general of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conference (FABC), Quevedo also promoted the formation of BECs/SCCs in Asia. In a press conference in the Collegio Filipino after his elevation as cardinal, Quevedo said:

“I believe that the vision of a local church, the church in Asia, is very relevant to the pontificate of Pope Francis, who is looking at the periphery rather than at the center… My main pastoral priority is the building of basic ecclesial communities in which the idea of forming persons of dialogue is being implemented … The idea of leadership that is shared, not just a dictate from above, but collaborative, consultative — what is called participatory church — is being built in the basic ecclesial communities … It is the grassroots response to the problems of the wider society, which is one sometimes of political dictates, dictating what is important for the people rather than consulting the people… One of a participatory church, a church of the poor, an enculturated church, and a church of authentic disciples — true followers of Christ, not only in name but in deed.. If you translate that vision of church into the whole world, that’s the vision really, I think, that Pope Francis is following: a humble church of the poor, a simple church, a church that is consultative.”

In an interview with Rappler, Cardinal Quevedo affirmed his continuing efforts to promote further the BECs in the country:

RAPPLER: And then what will be your new role in terms of promoting a Church for the Poor?

QUEVEDO: We have been promoting that in Cotabato through the basic ecclesial communities, empowering the poor farmers to run their own communities and to even have paraliturgical services, Liturgy of the Word, Bible services on their own, trained of course by our own staff. And that they know that they have dignity in their communities, that they can decide their own destiny in their own small communities. That’s how we are doing it. It’s easier to do it in the rural areas than in the urban areas.

RAPPLER: And then as cardinal, how will that role evolve, perhaps?

QUEVEDO: The vision of the Second Plenary Council is toward a Church of the Poor in the Philippines. And therefore, the bishops know all about the vision of the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines in 1990. And it’s easier to deal with the national, at the national level, when speaking about and arguing for and promoting basic ecclesial communities because there is, already, created in the CBCP a commission on basic ecclesial communities. It started with me. I was the first chair of that. And now it’s going on. And they have bi-yearly congresses, I think, gathering all dioceses together. They are doing that. It will continue, and I simply have to, with the other bishops, I simply have to encourage and promote it further, so that it doesn’t die.”