MANILA - Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Cardinal-designate Jose Advincula of the Archdiocese of Capiz will not attend the ceremony in the Vatican for the installation of new cardinals.
In a report from CBCP News, Fr. Emilio Arbatin, the archdiocese’s spokesperson, said the cardinal-elect made the decision as COVID-19 infections in Italy continued to rise, forcing authorities to impose stricter measures in many regions.
The ceremony will be held on November 28.
Arbatin said the 68-year-old archbishop already had a plane ticket reservation "but had to cancel it."
"The cardinal-designate would have really wanted to go, but this is an extraordinary time that also needs prudent judgment," Arbatin said.
The spokesperson added that Pope Francis was already informed of Advincula's decision through fellow Filipino Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, who is now based in Rome as the prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.
Like Advincula, Cardinal-designate Cornelius Sim of Brunei will skip the ceremony in Rome.
Traditionally, new cardinals would join their fellows to Rome for the consistory, the ceremony where the new "Princes of the Church" are formally created. Here, they will receive the red biretta and the cardinalatial ring from the pope.
However, the Code of Canon Law states that cardinals are made by a decree from the pope and not through the said ceremony.
The archdiocese's spokesperson said Advincula was informed by the Apostolic Nunciature in Manila "that he has an option not to go to Rome for the consistory."
"As of now, the cardinal-designate is still awaiting for the Vatican emcee Msgr. Guido Marini for the details and instructions on how to do the liturgy and ceremonies related to the giving of the red hat," Arbatin said.
Msgr. Guido Marini is the master of papal ceremonies.
In previous cases when a new cardinal could not attend the consistory, the pope usually appoints a representative to bestow the "red hat" to the candidate.
As of writing, there was no word yet whether the other new cardinals would fly to Rome to attend the consistory.
According to the running tally of the US-based Johns Hopkins University, Italy has more than 995,000 total recorded COVID-19 cases.
Due to recent spike in coronavirus infections, the Vatican was forced to again disallow the public from attending the pope's weekly general audiences. Also, many liturgies presided by Francis are still held without the public with the participation of select cardinals, bishops, and priests.
Several cardinals have contracted COVID-19, including the president of the Italian Bishops' Conference Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti who remains in critical condition. Others have already recovered including Tagle and Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, who serves as the pope's vicar for Rome.
Advincula is one of the 13 churchmen across the world that the pope has chosen to become new cardinals.
The prelate, who has been serving as the archbishop of Capiz since 2012, will be the ninth Filipino cardinal.
While there are still four living Filipino cardinals, only Advincula and Tagle would be able to participate in a possible conclave, as cardinals who are already over the age of 80 are no longer eligible.