Catholic Church

Pope Francis names Pangasinan priest as new Baguio bishop

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

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Pope Francis names Pangasinan priest as new Baguio bishop

Diocese of Baguio

Bishop-elect Rafael Cruz of Mapandan, Pangasinan, fills the one-year vacancy in the Diocese of Baguio

MANILA, Philippines – Pope Francis named a Pangasinan-born priest, Father Rafael Cruz, as the new bishop of the Diocese of Baguio, the Vatican announced on Thursday, June 20.

Father Roland Buyagan, administrator of the Diocese of Baguio, made the same announcement at 6 pm on Thursday (Manila time). “The Diocese of Baguio has a new bishop. Thanks be to God!” Buyagan declared at the Baguio Cathedral at around the same time it was publicized at noon in Rome.

“Let us pray for our newly appointed third bishop of the Diocese of Baguio and welcome him warmly into our diocesan community,” Buyagan said, as he led the community in singing the traditional hymn of praise called the Te Deum

Cruz, 64, is the outgoing parish priest of the Parish of Saint Ildephonse in Poblacion, Malasiqui, Pangasinan, and vicar forane of the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan, which is led by Archbishop Socrates Villegas.

The Baguio bishop-elect was born in Mapandan, Pangasinan, on March 12, 1960. A priest for nearly 39 years, he was ordained to the priesthood on September 8, 1985, the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

He studied philosophy at San Pablo Regional College Seminary in Baguio City and theology at the Immaculate Conception School of Theology in Vigan City, Ilocos Sur. He then obtained his master’s degree in counseling psychology and his doctorate in clinical psychology at Ateneo de Manila University.

He later underwent the residency training program at Loyola University Chicago and the Carl Jung Institute in Illinois.

The dates of his ordination as Catholic bishop, and his installation as bishop of Baguio, have yet to be announced.

The seat of the Baguio bishop has been vacant since May 2023, when then-bishop Victor Bendico was named archbishop of Capiz. –

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Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior multimedia reporter covering religion for Rappler. He also teaches journalism at the University of Santo Tomas. For story ideas or feedback, email