A Catholic bishop in the southern Philippines has called on Christians and Muslims in the region to continue supporting Mindanao’s longest running Catholic weekly.
The Mindanao Cross newspaper was founded by Oblates of Mary Immaculate missionaries in 1948 to foster religious and cultural harmony in the then-undivided Cotabato empire.
Archbishop Angelito Lampon of Cotabato lauded the Mindanao Cross for surviving the test of times and for having been faithful to its policy of publishing not only church news but also social issues.
“To have survived for 72 years is quite a feat,” said the bishop, noting that during the years of the dictatorship in the 1970s when newspapers were closed Mindanao Cross “continued on.”
Mindanao Cross, touted as “the little paper with a big cause,” first saw print on Feb. 6, 1948, through a printing machine that was only capable of printing a 2-page spread at a time.
The machine was donation from New York to the Oblates missionaries who were then led by the late Archbishop Gerard Mongeau.
The weekly comes out every Saturday and had a 17,000-print run in its peak.
In a statement, the newspaper said that for the past seven decades it has served as a “standard bearer of news for the whole of Cotabato.”
The old Cotabato empire was dissolved in the 1970s to become the provinces of North Cotabato, South Cotabato, Maguindanao, and Sultan Kudarat.
In its statement, the paper vowed to continue to perform its mission amid the growing influence of social media and the proliferation of so-called “fake news.”
Archbishop Lampon expressed confidence that Mindanao Cross will continue to survive because it has a valuable role to play.
He noted that the paper’s focus on local issues is “irreplaceable” even as it also reports on international and national issues.
“Only our local editors and reporters on the field can report and make a credible analysis of our local situation,” he said.
The prelate admitted that business-wise, the paper “might not be a lucrative financial endeavor,” but he said financial success was not the reason it was established.
“Mindanao Cross has a mission beyond finances,” he said.