MANILA - Almost 7 months since he was created a cardinal by Pope Francis, Manila Archbishop-elect Jose Advincula has officially received the symbols of his appointment as a "prince of the Church."
Acting on behalf of the pope, the Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines Archbishop Charles John Brown bestowed the cardinal's insignia to Advincula in a ceremony on Friday at the Immaculate Conception Metropolitan Cathedral in Roxas City, Capiz.
The symbols included the "red hat" called biretta and the cardinalatial ring. The prelate was also assigned a titular church in Rome— the church of San Vigilio.
"Truly the cardinalate, which His Holiness has bestowed upon this lowly servant, is a gift to all of us. It is a gift to the local church. It is a gift to the church in the Philippines," said Advincula, who is the 9th Filipino to become a cardinal.
The scaled-down ceremony had been postponed twice due to the unavailability of the papal nuncio and COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.
Only a few bishops, priests, and lay faithful were allowed to attend inside the cathedral.
In his homily during the thanksgiving mass after the bestowal rites, Advincula emphasized the chief role of a cardinal: to serve, listen, and renew.
"The cardinalate is in itself a call to serve, to listen, to renew. Servire, audire, renovare," the cardinal said.
"The cardinal must not only profess that he will serve, but he must always be ready to serve and even to suffer for the sake of those he serves, for that is the essence of a true servant."
Just like Pope Francis, Advincula also stepped back from the usual princely image of a cardinal.
"We can think of so many kinds of corruption in the priestly life. The scarlet of a cardinal's robe, which is the color of blood, can for a worldly spirit become the color of a secular eminence," Advincula said.
"In that case you will no longer be a shepherd who is close to his people. You will simply think that you are an eminence. Once you feel that way, you are already off the road."
Advincula was made a cardinal in a consistory at the Vatican in November 2020. It was there that he was supposed to personally receive the cardinal's insignia from the pope. But due to COVID-19 restrictions, he was unable to travel to Rome and instead followed the ceremony through online streaming.
Cardinals are close collaborators of the pope. But their biggest task is to elect a new pope in case of a death or resignation of the reigning pontiff. Being below the age of 80, Advincula is eligible to vote in a possible conclave to elect a new leader of the Catholic Church.
Four months after he was inducted to the Sacred College of Cardinals, Pope Francis appointed him as the 33rd archbishop of Manila. He will succeed Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, who was earlier transferred to head the Vatican's Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.
Acknowledging his impending transfer to Manila, Advincula admitted he thought he would remain as Capiz's archbishop until his death.
"I was expecting to serve here in Capiz until the Lord calls me back to Him. But the Holy Father has called me to go to Manila and I have to obey. Please accompany me with your prayers as I journey into this new field of ministry," the cardinal said.
Advincula will officially take the helm of the capital's archdiocese on June 24.