THE 131-member Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has lost two of its members on the same day to cancer.
Bishop Leopoldo Tumulak of the Military Ordinariate of the Philippines (MOP) and San Fernando City (La Union) Bishop Rodolfo Beltran both passed away on Saturday.
Tumulak,72, died of pancreatic cancer at the Cardinal Santos Medical Center in Mandaluyong City at 1:26 p.m., while Bautista, 68, expired six hours later of prostrate cancer at the University of Santo Tomas Hospital in Manila.
The MOP is a personal diocese for the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine National Police and the Philippine Coast Guard.
At the time of his death, Tumulak was also chairman of the CBCP’s Episcopal Commission on Prison Pastoral Care.
He also served as the first chairman of the bishops’ Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church from 1996 to 2005.
In 2000, Pope John Paul II appointed him as a Consultor to the Vatican’s Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church, a position he held until 2005.
A native of Santander town in Cebu province, Tumulak was ordained priest in March 1971.
In January 1987, he was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Cebu and served at the post for five years until 1992 when he was named the bishop of Tagbilaran City (Bohol).
Beltran was serving his fourth year as bishop of San Fernando at the time of his death.
He was born on November 13, 1948 in Gattaran, Cagayan and was ordained priest on March 25, 1976.
Beltran served as parish priest of Saint Anne Parish, Buguey, Cagayan (1997-1999) and of Saint Peter Cathedral, Tuguegarao City (also in Cagayan) from 1999 to 2005.
On March 18, 2006, Pope Benedict XVI appointed him Vicar Apostolic of Bontoc-Lagawe.
On October 30, 2012, he was appointed as the bishop of San Fernando City, La Union.
Pope Francis is expected to name the two bishops’ replacements in accordance with the Vatican’s rules on succession.
The Supreme Pontiff or the Pope has the ultimate decision whom to choose based on a list of candidates forwarded by the Philippine Apostolic Nuncio to the Congregation for Bishops in Rome.
WILLIAM B. DEPASUPIL