Cardinal Orlando Beltran Quevedo, O.M.I., the newest cardinal from the Philippines, is a dedicated servant of the poor who has advocated for peace between Christians and Muslims in the country.
The cardinal archbishop of Cotabato told the Philippines news site MindaNews in February that he was not happy when he first learned he had been named a cardinal. Rather, he had a “sense of fear” and a “feeling of inadequacy” upon hearing the news.
He said he prayed that as a cardinal he would be “holy, wise, humble, zealous, generous.”
The Filipino prelate was one of 19 new cardinals created in Pope Francis’ Feb. 22 consistory.
Cardinal Quevedo, 75, suggested that the Pope selected him due to his interest in poverty, social justice issues and basic ecclesial communities. He also credited the work of past Filipino cardinals who advocated for a cardinal from Mindanao, the southernmost major island of the Philippines which has never had a prelate in the College of Cardinals.
The new cardinal has worked for peace during times of tensions between Christian and Muslim Filipinos, especially the Muslim Moro people native to Mindanao.
In an influential 2003 paper, he said the root cause of the Moro Muslim insurgency was “injustice” toward the Moro people’s identity, their political sovereignty, and their “integral development.” He examined the mistreatment of the Moro people and historic tensions with Spanish and American colonialism and with Filipino Christians.
He called for the overcoming of “prejudices and biases,” with Muslim and Christian leaders needing to play “a major role.” He credited a change in his own understanding of the situation to his time teaching, advising, conversing and being with Muslim students and professionals.
The cardinal’s elevation was honored at a March 2014 banquet in the Philippines’ Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. The region’s vice governor, Haroun Al-Rashid Lucman, said that the cardinal is “not only a man of God but also a champion of Muslim human rights,” the Manila Bulletin reports.
Cardinal Quevedo was born March 11, 1939, in the Philippines province of Ilocos Norte on the northern island of Luzon, but moved with his family to the Ililo province in the Philippines’ Western Visayas region.
He was ordained for the Oblates of Mary Immaculate in June 1964 at the age of 25 in Washington, D.C.
The cardinal has several United States connections - he spent his novitiate in the Texas town of Mission in the mid-1950s, and received his bachelor’s degree in sacred theology and his master’s degree in religious education from the Oblate College of the Catholic University of America in the mid-1960s. He also studied the theology of religious life through Missouri’s St. Louis University in the 1970s.
He is the past president of both the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, where he served for two terms, and Cotabato City’s Notre Dame University.
In addition, he served on the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace from 1990-1994.
Cardinal Quevado was ordained as Bishop of Kidapawan, the capital of Cotabato province, in 1980. He was named Archbishop of Nueva Segovia, an archdiocese in the northern Philippines island of Luzon, in 1986.
Pope John Paul II named him Archbishop of Cotabato in 1998.
There are three other living cardinals in the Philippines: Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, the Archbishop of Manila; Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales, Archbishop emeritus of Manila; and Cardinal Ricardo Vidal, Archbishop emeritus of Cebu.