Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle: Future Pope

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B Jimenez (The Freeman) - December 16, 2019 - 12:00am

Finally, our country, the biggest Catholic nation in Asia and the Pacific will have a papabili, or a viable candidate for the seat of St. Peter. To be in Pope Francis' curia or cabinet is finding himself a breath away from the apex of top Catholic leadership.

The appointment by Pope Francis of our own Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle to the exalted position in the Church's sanctum sancturom, which is the Vatican curia, as Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, is our best Christmas gift from Rome. This position makes Cardinal Chito a true global figure, and it will bring him to all the seven continents, across the seven oceans. This a major victory of the Filipino clergy and a great pride for the 85 million Filipino Catholics. I was in Vatican with my family last October and my sources in the Roman grapevine already hinted to me that a big announcement from the seat of Peter would surprise the Philippine Catholic faithful a few weeks before Christmas.

Pope Francis is gradually changing the leadership of the curia from dyed-in-the-wool conservatives to liberals and reformists like himself. This powerful post is charged with the vital mission of the transmission and dissemination of the Catholic faith in the whole world, from Antarctica to Zimbabwe. Cardinal Tagle will handle all the diverse missionary efforts and initiatives globally. He will bring to Rome his intellectual acumen, his dynamic and passionate advocacies, born out of his commitment and his pastoral experience. He had eight years as Archbishop of Manila leading three million Catholics, and eight years as bishop of the Diocese of Imus. Ordained in 1982, and made a cardinal by Pope Benedict in 2012, Cardinal Chito has been quite fast in his elevation to higher posts in the hierarchy.

Cardinal Tagle has ten doctorates Honoris Causa, and he has had a lot of experience working for Rome. He was head of the Congregation for Catholic Education, the Pontifical Council for the Family, and the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrant and Itinerant Peoples. Until today, he heads the Caitas Internationale, coordinating charitable works all over the world, and supervising no less than 165 Catholic relief organizations globally. It seems that of all our cardinals and bishops, Cardinal Tagle is the one closest to the Pope and is well-loved and respected in the Vatican bureaucracy. Pope Francis has a special fondness for Cardinal Chito because they always have the same ideas and same approaches to dogmatic and secular issues.

As a Catholic, a lay minister, and a Knight of Columbus, I applaud the whole Church in the Philippines for this signal victory and distinct honor. I hope that Cardinal Chito can convince Pope Francis to attend the 500th anniversary of our Christianization in March 2021. That is if Pope Francis will still be at the helm. Who knows that by the time, the first Filipino Pope will preside our grand celebration 500 years after the first Mass was celebrated in Limasawa, and five centuries after the first baptism held in our own island in Cebu. The simple boy from Cavite is now a very important figure in Vatican. I have a strong feeling that this exalted post is just a stepping stone for the 62-year-old pastor to go higher and higher until he reaches the seat of the fisherman.

We shall be missing him as Archbishop of Manila, but our loss is the Catholic world's gain.


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