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MANILA, Philippines – A California bishop appointed a priest from Laoag City in Ilocos Norte, as his right-hand man, in another sign of the growing influence of Filipino clergymen in the Catholic Church.
Bishop Oscar Cantu of the Diocese of San Jose, California, named Laoag priest Father Andres Ligot as his new vicar general and chancellor, according to the news service of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on Thursday, July 20.
The appointment of Ligot, a canon lawyer, took effect on July 1.
The vicar general is the bishop’s right-hand man who is given “executive power over the whole diocese” except for acts reserved to the bishop, according to the Code of Canon Law.
The chancellor is the church official who ensures that acts of the curia, the bureaucracy of the diocese, “are gathered, arranged, and safeguarded in the archive of the curia.”
As vicar general and chancellor of the Diocese of San Jose, Ligot is expected to wield significant power over this 600,000-strong Catholic community, which includes many Filipinos in the United States.
Ordained for Diocese of Laoag
Ligot was born and raised in Laoag, according to CBCP News. In June 1992, he was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Laoag, and Pope Saint John Paul II himself presided over his priestly ordination at Saint Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City.
He is a nephew of the late Bishop Victorino Ligot, who served the Diocese of San Fernando de La Union.
Ligot obtained his doctorate in canon law from the University of Navarre in Pamplona, Spain, after which he came to the Diocese of San Jose in 1999, said CBCP News. He also finished his bachelor’s degree in sacred theology and licentiate in canon law at the University of Navarre.
For his first two years of theological studies, he attended the Jesuit-run San Jose Seminary based in Ateneo de Manila University, Quezon City.
Like Ligot, other Filipino priests have been named to top posts in the Catholic Church in recent years.
On Tuesday, July 18, the Vatican said Pope Francis named a Tacloban-born priest, Father Erwin Jose Balagapo, as one of two new office heads at the Vatican department led by former Manila archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle.
Tagle himself is one of the most prominent prelates in the Catholic Church, with analysts having identified him as a potential successor to Francis. – Rappler.com