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Filipino Bishop Ordained by Pope FrancisAs part of his continuing efforts to re-energize the Catholic Church, Pope Francis ordained a Filipino, Father Narciso Abellana, as a Bishop. The Romblon diocese has long been a stronghold for the Church as it is estimated that as many as 75% of all residents of the Philippines are Catholic. Ordaining a bishop that the people can trust and follow is essential for the continued spiritual growth of the people in this diverse nation as the Catholic Church continues to gain momentum under the leadership of Pope Francis. The position has been vacant since 2011 when the former Bishop, Jose Corazon Tala-oc, was transferred.

History of Catholicism in the Philippines

To understand how important a well-chosen bishop is to the Filipino people, one must first know a little bit about the Philippines. Although it is a Pacific island nation, it was colonized by Spain in the 1500s. The result of a long era of Spanish dominance is a strong Catholic culture. Even the many Philippine languages are very close to Spanish in sound and grammatical construction. Today Spain no longer governs the Philippines, but Spanish heritage, including Christianity, is a permanent part of the culture.

The New Bishop

The newly ordained Bishop Abellana seems to be much like Pope Francis himself. He is humble, and when he was told of his upcoming ordination, he did not feel like he was ready for the responsibility and wondered out loud, "Why me?" At 60 years old, Abellana is relatively young to have such a high position of authority in the Church. However, despite his young age, he has been commended by those who work with him. His friends and followers look forward to his ministry.

Missionaries of the Sacred Heart

Bishop Abellana is of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, also abbreviated as MSC from the Latin_Missionarii Sacratissimi Cordis_. He will be the first bishop from the MSC since 1990, when Pedro Magugat passed away. The MSC is known for its compassion and its desire to share the love and heart of Christ with everyone. Pope Francis has turned toward the forgiving nature of Christ, more so than some previous popes. It is possible that Pope Francis chose this new Filipino bishop because of Abellana's charity and love for his fellow man.

Is Bishop Abellana Prepared?

As to the question of whether or not Bishop Abellana is ready for his new duties, only time will tell. It is likely that he will no longer be overseeing some of the rites and rituals he once performed as a priest, such as marriages. It is interesting to think of how now nearly anyone with a desire can be ordained to perform marriages.

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