“The reason I was appointed Cardinal in Cotabato is because of the location. The archdiocese is a microcosm, it represents the problems of the entire Mindanao area, its poverty, conflict, and under development. You will find that 47 percent are Muslims and 48 percent are Catholic.”

“I expect it to be like being crowned with thorns and it might be related to the idea that a cardinal is supposed to die as a martyr of faith because the color red symbolizes the willingness to be a martyr for the faith. The expectation of being a Cardinal is not only one of honor, one of privilege, one of power but one of great service to people.”

With these words, Cotabato Archbisop Orlando B. Quevedo summed up his years ministering to the church of Mindanao for close to forty years. In nearly the same breath, Cardinal Quevedo weighed the task before him as Mindanao’s first Cardinal, on his induction into the Vatican’s College of Cardinals this past Saturday.

On this joyful occasion, the Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID) together with its allied networks such as the Mindanao PeaceWeavers (MPW) extend our warmest congratulations to Cardinal Quevedo and the rest of the Catholic faithful on his induction into this venerable assembly. We hope that his new office helps focus the world’s attention on Mindanao and the challenges it has faced and accumulated over decades of poverty, conflict and neglect. At the same time, we commend Cardinal Quevedo for recognizing the deep roots of the issues Mindanao faces, yet remains unfazed, committed to the sizable tasks before him.

In these endeavors, we assure the good cardinal that he is not alone, and that his desire to serve along with his vision of peace and progress for Mindanao is shared fully and enthusiastically by all of IID and MPW. At this juncture, we welcome Cardinal Quevedo, not as the newest addition to our efforts in Mindanao, but as an affirmation that a Mindanao champion had long and quietly worked among the poor and disadvantaged of Mindanao. We are heartened that the rest of the world has now affirmed a leader we have long recognized as one of Mindanao’s shining advocates for a just peace and sustainable development.

We take this occasion to again congratulate Cardinal Quevedo on this historic milestone and count ourselves and the rest of Mindanao blessed that such champions for the region’s future continue to step forward during these challenging times. Let us all take our lead from Cardinal Quevedo and take on the honor and the privilege of serving the people. With the grace and blessing of the Almighty, more power to us all!