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By Agnes Donato

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, Jan. 9) – Bishop Tomas A. Camacho offered a message of hope yesterday during a Mass for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands’ new set of elected leaders.

Gov.-elect Benigno R. Fitial and Lt. Gov.-elect Timothy P. Villagomez, along with elected officials Commonwealth-wide, attended the Mass with their families.

Camacho, who presided at the inaugural Mass, said the new administration could overcome the CNMI's problems by transcending political differences and taking guidance from religion.

"My dear honorable ladies and gentlemen: The greatest anxiety that we all share at this point in time is the worsening economy. But I dare say, do not be afraid. If worse comes to worse-which I doubt-I firmly believe that you can handle it," Camacho said in his homily.

He noted that the islands had been through worse times, when the all five districts of the then Trust Territory government had an annual budget of $50 million. "But we have survived," he said.

He stressed that it was important for the leaders to work together despite their differences.

"[T]he bow or the rainbow Genesis talks about in [the] account of the great flood can be compared with the bow which formed the political parties this last campaign. All the colors are represented here: the Red, the Blue, the Yellow, and the Green. You cannot have [a] rainbow with only one color. The more colors you have the more beautiful the rainbow is. So we should appreciate one another because it's our differences that make life interesting," the bishop said.

Camacho also urged the elected officials not to neglect morality and spirituality as they work to lead the CNMI toward social justice, peace, and economic prosperity.

"There is a mandate that is higher than the ballot box and it comes from God. You have a responsibility not only to the people of your municipality and to the people of the CNMI, but you also have a great responsibility to God," he said.

The inaugural Mass was held at 3pm at the Mount Carmel Cathedral in Chalan Kanoa.

January 9, 2006

Saipan Tribune

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