Peace advocate bishop to head Church’s social justice arm

Peace advocate bishop to head Church’s social justice arm

Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo greets Pope Francis during his Ad Limina visit at the Vatican on June 7, 2019.

By Roy Lagarde

July 9, 2019

Manila, Philippines

A Catholic bishop, who is known for his peace advocacies in troubled southern Philippines, will take control the Church’s social action and justice arm.

Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo of Kidapawan will replace Archbishop Rolando Tria Tirona of Caceres, whose term as head of Caritas Philippines will end in November.

At 65, Bagaforo will lead the directions of the local Caritas, more known as the National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice and Peace (Nassa).

For decades, the church agency has been at the forefront of the church’s humanitarian response and justice and peace advocacies.

Even before becoming a bishop in 2006, Bagaforo has led several peace-building initiatives in Mindanao.

At one point, he became a member of the Philippine Government’s negotiating panel for peace agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

“Bishop Bagaforo comes with many years of experience in peace-building in Mindanao which is now becoming one of the major advocacy directions for Nassa,” said Fr. Edu Gariguez, its executive secretary.

In January 2019, he led a three-kilometer “walk for peace” in Kidapawan as people voted on the fate of the landmark Bangsamoro Organic Law.

The prelate has also been serving as the Social Action Commission head in Mindanao. “So the work is really not new to him,” Gariguez added.

His election came during the biannual plenary assembly of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines in Manila over the weekend.

Bagaforo is among the 12 newly elected chairmen who will head the 30 commissions, committees and offices of the CBCP.

Born in Cotabato City, Bagaforo was ordained a priest for the Cotabato archdiocese in 1980.

In 2006, he was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Cotabato. Ten years later, Pope Francis named him the bishop of Kidapawan.