New Bishop Ryan Jimenez won’t shy from tough issues

Ryan Jimenez the newly appointed bishop of Chalan Kanoa, Saipan says that in addition to further strengthening the unity of Catholics in the Northern Marianas, he won’t be shying from becoming part of the conversations about some of the tough issues the community faces.

Immigration and same-sex marriage are among these issues, Jimenez said.

He is not saying he’s for same-sex union, and it’s not his place to state church policy on the topic, he said.

He says he does want to promote respect for people, regardless of who they are.

At a press conference, after his appointment was announced he mentioned Pope Francis’ public statement almost three years ago.

“If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”

The immigration issue in the Northern Marianas includes the plight of displaced foreign workers, some of whom are from the Philippines.

A U.S. immigration limit on how many foreign workers can get work permits in the Northern Marianas each year, could send hundreds of Northern Marianas workers back to their home countries if they fall out of legal immigration status.

When Jimenez’s appointment was made public, he was heading to Saipan’s neighbouring island, Tinian, to visit a group of Filipino workers who hadn’t been paid for months.

Jimenez makes it part of his routine to be in touch with the community he serves, whether it’s at a casual coffee shop for breakfast, or at a dormitory for foreign workers who need food for the soul despite their economic struggles.

Balbina Perez, of the Tinian parish, described Jimenez in the diocese’s publication, North Star, as “a people person.”

Also called “the smiling priest,” Jimenez grew up from humble beginnings on the tiny town of Larena, on the Philippine island of Siquijor.

His parents, Rogelio and Lillia Jimenez, raised him on an island almost the size of Saipan, hundreds of miles from Manila, which is accessible only by boat.

One of his first calls to share the news of his bishop appointment was to his mum, a retired public school teacher who still lives in the town where he was raised.


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News category: Asia Pacific.

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