MANILA, Philippines - After two years of renovation, the Manila Cathedral reopened last night, with President Aquino attending the inaugural mass.
The President’s presence at the mass celebrated by Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle was seen as a gesture of reconciliation with the Catholic Church following the government’s active support for the passage of the Reproductive Health Law, which the Church openly campaigned against.
The RH Law was upheld by the Supreme Court the other day, with eight key provisions invalidated.
The cathedral reopens its doors in time for Holy Week.
In his homily, Tagle said that like the cathedral’s reconstruction, the provinces hit by the worst calamities in 2013 shall rise from their ruins.
Tagle reassured survivors of calamities in the Visayas and Mindanao that they are not forgotten.
He spoke about rebuilding lives “like a church and rising above ruins” and did not mention anything about the RH Law.
‘We are home’
The cathedral was closed on Feb. 7, 2012 to undergo its first retrofitting and repairs since it was built in 1958.
Assessment showed that its structural integrity had been compromised. It had cracks, and its beams and columns did not meet the standards set by 2010 National Structural Code.
Tagle in jest recalled how the closing of the church was one of his first orders when he assumed his post.
“It just dawned on me that when I took canonical possession of the archdiocese of Manila in December 2011, one of my first decisions was to close my cathedral,” he said. “Now are all home. Welcome home. Welcome home to this archdiocese...the home of our God, the home of our Mother.”
He said he was overwhelmed by the generosity of everyone who helped rebuild the historic structure, and the expertise of Filipino people.
Tagle said donations abounded, from companies to ordinary people who would hand them envelopes containing cash, including coins, so the repairs would be finished.
“There are so many to mention... God knows who you are.. we could not have reconstructed without your generosity,” Tagle said.
He lauded the dedication and expertise of those who toiled – from licensed engineers to the construction workers – to get the work done.- Aie Balagtas See, Aurea Calica