( A repost from CBCPNews)
MANILA, July 7, 2009—Roman Catholic bishops will choose one among them on Saturday who will serve the top post of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).
The 98 active bishop “electors” will gather on Saturday to Sunday for the CBCP’s 99th plenary assembly at the Pope Pius XII Catholic Center in Paco, Manila.
Highlight of the meeting is the election of a new president who would fill the shoes of outgoing CBCP head, Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo.
Under Lagdameo, the CBCP was vocal on social issues such as mining, illegal gambling and, more recently, constitutional amendment and extrajudicial killings, among others.
Lagdameo became controversial when he issued his strongest statement against the Arroyo administration—denouncing the “moral bankruptcy” in government and of government leaders.
The CBCP plenary will also elect their vice president and a new set of officers for its permanent council for a two-year term—from 2010 to 2012.
The permanent council acts for and in behalf of the CBCP when the plenary assembly is not in session. Chaired by the CBCP president, its officers attend to the operations of the Conference.
The Council is also mandated to work with the Episcopal commissions and assign them functions of urgent character that were not taken up in plenary.
One of the Council’s main functions is to prepare joint statements or pastoral letters of the church hierarchy on matters decided upon by the plenum, provided that copies are sent to other members for approval before they are officially released.
In CBCP history, members of the permanent council enjoy two terms in office, with the vice president normally succeeding the president when his term expires.
Tandag Bishop Nereo Odchimar, a canon lawyer, is currently serving his first term as vice president of the bishops’ collegial body.
The bishops will likewise elect the CBCP’s new secretary general and chairpersons of the 33 different commissions, committees and offices.
The CBCP is also expected to issue on Monday a pastoral statement on ecclesiastical, moral and socio-political issues affecting the country.
Caloocan Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez earlier said the plenary might discuss the issue on constituent assembly as the mode for Charter change.
The CBCP is composed of 130 prelates, 32 of them are retired. Only those who are active in service, however, are allowed to vote.
The new set of CBCP officials who will be elected this week will assume their posts on December 1, 2009. (Roy Lagarde)
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