Filipino bishops

Pope Francis names Philippines’ youngest prelate as bishop of Calapan

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

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Pope Francis names Philippines’ youngest prelate as bishop of Calapan

YOUNGEST BISHOP. The Most Reverend Moises Cuevas, 49, is named apostolic vicar of Calapan, Oriental Mindoro.

Archdiocese of Zamboanga

Bishop Moises Cuevas, 49, is remembered for calling out erring clergymen over lavish lifestyles, criticizing the ‘addiction that has blinded our priests’

MANILA, Philippines – Pope Francis named the Philippines’ youngest Catholic prelate, 49-year-old Moises Magpantay Cuevas, as bishop of Calapan in Oriental Mindoro.

The Vatican announced Cuevas’ appointment as apostolic vicar of Calapan on Thursday, June 29. 

In this capacity, Cuevas will head the Catholic Church in the Apostolic Vicariate of Calapan, which covers the entire province of Oriental Mindoro. The 72-year-old apostolic vicariate, a Catholic community that has not been made a full diocese, is composed of around 814,000 Catholics.

Composed of 126 islands and islets, Oriental Mindoro is an agricultural province known for its bodies of water and its hinterlands, home to indigenous people called Mangyans. It is now facing an oil spill crisis after a tanker sank in its waters in February, affecting up to 200,244 people and leaving up to P7 billion in environmental damage

Pope Francis names Philippines’ youngest prelate as bishop of Calapan

The new shepherd of Oriental Mindoro was born in Batangas, a province that is only a ferry ride away, but was ordained priest in faraway Zamboanga in 2000.

Two decades later, in 2020, he became auxiliary bishop of Zamboanga – and is now the apostolic administrator or temporary head of the Archdiocese of Zamboanga while waiting for the installation of its new archbishop, Julius Tonel, on August 2022.

In February, Rappler reported how Cuevas called out erring priests for their lavish lifestyles, criticizing the “addiction that has blinded our priests who are the front liners of the faith.”

During a Catholic convention in Mati City, Cuevas recalled a priest in his archdiocese who bought at least five motorcycles. “I told him to simply get rid of the girls he allowed to ride on his motorcycles with him,” Cuevas said.

“There is a big problem already when we are blinded. When we are blinded, we are running selfishly. The more we run after them (vices), the blinder we become,” Cuevas told his fellow clergymen.

“To be the living sacrifice, to give everything to God, we need the healing of our blindness, because if we are blind, we cannot move forward as front liners of the faith,” the country’s youngest Catholic bishop added. – Rappler.com

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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 pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.