THOMASIAN and human rights advocate Bishop Jose Palma will be the next archbishop of Cebu after the retirement of Cardinal Vidal, who will turn 80 years old on February next year.

Palma’s appointment was made by the Vatican last October 14 and was announced to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines by Papal Nuncio Edward Joseph Adams the next day.

Palma said that the appointment was so sudden and unexpected but he was obliged to follow the Holy See.

“Unworthy as I am, I accepted the appointment out of obedience,” Palma said in a statement released to CBCPnews.com, the news agency of CBCP.

Palma is serving his first term as vice president of CBCP.

Palma finished his degree in philosophy at St. Vincent Ferrer Seminary and theology at St. Joseph Regional Seminary, both in Iloilo. He later earned his Licentiate in Sacred Theology at UST and his doctorate in theology at the St. Thomas Aquinas Pontifical University in Rome.

He was ordained priest on August 21, 1976. In 1998, he was named auxiliary bishop of Cebu. He became the Archbishop of Palo in March 2006.

Vidal, who has served as Archbishop of Cebu for 28 years, submitted his resignation letter to Pope Benedict XVI in 2006, the year he turned 75 years old , the mandatory age of retirement for clergymen.

Vidal, who was a former CBCP president, has received several rewards including the Outstanding Filipino Award presented from the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) in 1998 and the Rizal Peace Prize in 2002. Robin G. Padilla

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