Bacolod Bishop Vicente Navarra yesterday called on those in the legal profession to remain true to their vocation, especially in promoting justice and truth.
In his homily during the mass held for the conferment of the St. Thomas More Award to four Negrense lawyers – the late Judge Henry Arles, the late Deputy Ombudsman Juan Hagad, and the diocese legal counsels Mitchelle Abella and Henrietta Vinco – Navarra said lawyers should rise above the criticisms hurled against their profession.
Instead, he said, they should be agents of peace and justice, citing St. Thomas More, patron saint of lawyers, who followed his conscience and died a martyr for the faith, instead of succumbing to the threats and enticements of the powerful.
Admitting that there are more lawyers in the diocese who are also worthy to be recognized, Navarra said time constraints prompted him to choose four among them to receive the St. Thomas More Award this year, as the Church prepares for the opening of the Year of Faith in October.
Arles, had served as legal counsel of the Diocesan Social Action Center, while the late Ombudsman Hagad was known for his service to the diocese.
The St. Thomas More Award was initiated in 2005 by Navarra in recognition of the services of outstanding lawyers for the services rendered to the Church, especially in its advocacies such as the promotion of social justice, defense of human life and human rights, protection of the environment and the promotion of genuine peace based on justice.
Its first recipient is lawyer Francisco Cruz, a dedicated lawyer of the Diocesan Social Action Center of Bacolod.*NAB