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Pope’s surprising resignation and Bishop’s early retirement, mere coincidence

Filed under: Diocesan News |

Bishop Leo Drona

SAN PABLO City, March 1, 2013 – Wild speculations about the unusually fast approval of a bishop’s early retirement with immediate replacement being linked with Pope Benedict XVI’s own unexpected resignation on February 28 has no basis, said a Laguna prelate. 

Former San Pablo bishop Leo M. Drona told the Laguna clergy during a Farewell Luncheon Program on Monday, February 18, that it was mere coincidence that few days after the Pope approved his early retirement, the Roman Pontiff also followed suit by announcing his own unexpected resignation from the throne of Peter effective February 28. 

Some lay people and priests speculated that the seeming rush in approving Drona’s application for retirement by Vatican was affected by the planned resignation of the Pope.

Drona nonetheless pointed out that the underlying motive of his own retirement closely resembles the Roman Pontiff’s intention of resigning. Both of them, he said, had among others, health reasons and for the greater good of the Holy Catholic Church as their main motives of resigning early.   

About a year ago, Drona had undergone the procedure of Coronary Angioplasty to clear some impairments in his heart. This subsequently slowed down the prelate’s pastoral activities. He is also suffering a delicate eye ailment which greatly affected his vision.   

Drona, however, admitted being caught by surprise at the seeming promptness of Rome to approve his application for retirement including the swiftness of appointing his immediate successor. 

When the Vatican announced Drona’s resignation on January 25, 2013 at the same time his successor was also appointed in the person of Most Rev. Buenaventura M. Famadico, DD, the former prelate of Gumaca, Quezon. 

The Vatican’s usual practice was to approve a bishop’s application for retirement or to transfer a prelate to another assignment without designating right away their respective successors. It would usually take one year or more before the Pope could usually appoint a replacement. 

In his last official communication to all the priests and religious of Laguna, Bishop Emeritus Drona wrote: A day after the Holy Father approves the retirement of any bishop he immediately becomes an Emeritus. Hence, early enough for the greater unity of the diocese, he instructed all the clergy to already mention the name of his successor during every Masses effective Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Season of Lent. 

During the program, the former bishop revealed that right after he heard of Rome’s announcement, he promptly vacated the Bishop’s Residence in one week time to provide space and facilitate the transfer of the newly appointed Bishop Famadico to the Diocese of San Pablo, Laguna. 

Vicar General Msgr. Melchor Barcenas was emotional and was speaking between sobs when he gave his parting message with the Bishop in behalf of the clergy. 

He said he too was not expecting that the prelate’s departure from office would be as speedy as it got. 

Nevertheless, he said, the former bishop will always be with us to pray, inspire and guide us together with the new bishop. 

Drona is now occupying a room in the Clergy Retirement House which he himself built located near the Saint Peter College Seminary in Brgy. Concepcion in San Pablo City. 

Upon assumption of office as prelate of San Pablo after installation on March 2,  Famadico becomes the 4th Bishop of Laguna as the diocese nears its 50th year of existence. Laguna was created a diocese on November 28, 1966. 

The other former bishops of the diocese include the late Bishop Pedro N. Bantigue, DD and Bishop Francisco C. San Diego, DD. (Fr. Romy Ponte) 

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