Did Cardinal Vidal’s politics preclude early work to break up the Archdiocese of Cebu?

If the recommendation to study the viability of breaking up the Archdiocese of Cebu came after the Cebu Archdiocesan Priests’ Congress on August 20, 2002, why did the move happen only after more than 20 years?

The archdiocese had more than two decades to do it and now it wants to complete the study and proposal for the breakup in a year?

The official explanation is that Cebu’s hosting of various event – and the Archdiocese of Cebu hosts a lot of events – precluded the implementation of various recommendations to break up the archdiocese.

But the first event that the archdiocese held up as an explanation or excuse for lack of work on the breakup was the 2009 Diamond Jubilee celebration. That’s 7 years from the clergy congress and 5 years from when Cardinal Vidal asked now retired Bishop Emilio Bataclan to conduct his own study based on the minutes of the meeting of Visayan bishops.

Why were there no moves done in the years immediately preceding the clergy congress or the meeting of Visayan bishops?

Could the reason be the raging debate during those these times over Sugbuak, the political move to break up Cebu into smaller provinces?

Vidal, who was political as a prelate, sided with Governor Gwendolyn Garcia and the others who opposed the move by last-termer politicians to carve out their own political fiefdoms and split the Province of Cebu and give birth, so to speak, to the new provinces of Cebu del Sur, Cebu del Norte and Cebu Occidental.

Vidal was quoted in news reports that an “unscientific survey carried out by the Cebu Archdiocese indicated that Cebu Roman Catholic parishioners oppose the plan to cut up Cebu into smaller provinces.”

Vidal was even quoted prominently in the website created by the Province of Cebu against Sugbuak as saying, “The Church herself would not dare see her faithful in hot water on account of pursuing a very aggrandizing and selfish ambition of creating three new provinces.”

Wouldn’t it have been awkward for the Archdiocese of Cebu to move to break up the archdiocese considering the strong political stand by its prelate against the division of the province?

And so here we are, more than 20 years later, completing a process that has its impetus the very thing that those last-termer politicians put forward in their move that was opposed by Vidal – bring services closer to the people.

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