Nuncio to Filipinos: ‘Live your baptismal calling’

Nuncio to Filipinos: ‘Live your baptismal calling’
Archbishop Charles Brown, Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines, leads the commemoration of the country’s 500th anniversary of the first Christian baptism at Plaza Sugbo in Cebu City on April 14, 2021. PHOTOS BY SAMMY NAVAJA

By CBCP News

April 15, 2021

Manila, Philippines

Papal nuncio Archbishop Charles Brown led the commemoration of the first Christian baptism in the Philippines on Wednesday and called on Filipinos to live their baptismal calling.

He said that by virtue of their baptism, all Catholics are called to be missionaries, sharing the Gospel message by their words and actions.

“Let us recommit ourselves today to our own baptismal calling so that we will be witnesses to the light of Christ not only here in the Philippines, but indeed throughout the entire world,” Brown said.

The nuncio was the main celebrant of the April 14 Mass held in Cebu City’s Plaza Sugbo, located just beside the historic Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño de Cebu.

Before the Mass, a reenactment of the first baptism on Philippine soil was held by performers who portrayed the first meeting between the Sugbuanons and the Spaniards led by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan.

Both events happened in the same place where Magellan’s men mounted a Christian cross, a historical symbol in the city now known as “Magellan’s Cross”.

Today, 500 years after, Brown said that the same Catholic faith is being carried throughout the world by Filipinos, not as colonizers, but in many cases as overseas workers.

“So, the faith that began in Asia was transported to this part of Asia by Europeans and now is being re-transported back to Europe and other places around the world by Filipinos,” he said. “And what do we see in this? We see the universality of the Catholic faith.”

“The Catholic faith cannot be identified with any single culture; it is rather the life-giving truth of God that can be embraced by any culture and, with time, will transform that culture so that – as here in the Philippines – that culture will give its own particular expression to the Catholic faith,” he added.

The celebration was also highlighted with the baptism of seven children from different communities in the island.

In attendance were nine other bishops including Cardinal Orlando Quevedo, the archbishop emeritus of Cotabato, and Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu.

On the same day, the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) also formally declared the minor basilica, including its convent, and the pavilion of the Magellan’s Cross were declared “National Cultural Treasures”.

“As our contribution in the commemoration, the cultural agencies of our country have decided to declare the Basilica of the Sto. Niño de Cebu as a National Cultural Treasure, one of the highest recognitions the State can give to a particular built heritage,” said NHCP chairperson Dr. Rene Escalante in a speech.

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