Manila Archbishop Tagle to become world’s second youngest cardinal

Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle (MNS photo)

MANILA, Oct 25 (Mabuhay) – Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle will be among the six non-European Roman Catholic prelates who will join the Vatican’s College of Cardinals in November, Pope Benedict XVI announced Wednesday.

At 55, Tagle will become the world’s second youngest cardinal and has been touted as a future papal contender. Cardinals advise the pontiff and elect his successor among themselves upon his death. The newest group of appointees will bring the total number of cardinals world-wide to 120.

The other new cardinals will be the American James Michael Harvey, Lebanon’s Bechara Boutros Rahi, India’s Baselios Cleemis, Nigeria’s John Onaiyekan and Colombia’s Ruben Salazar Gomez. Cleemis, at 53, will be the youngest cardinal.

The CBCP News website mistakenly said that Tagle would be the world’s youngest cardinal.

The site also said that Tagle will now be the seventh cardinal in the Church’s history in the Philippines. The other cardinals are retired Archbishops Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, 80, of Manila and Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, 81, of Cebu.

The other Filipino cardinals have passed away: Rufino Cardinal Santos, Julio Cardinal Rosales, Jaime Cardinal Sin and Jose Cardinal Sanchez.

Since 1970, cardinals over 80 years old have not been counted as active.

With Tagle’s appointment, the Philippines will have an active cardinal in case of a conclave.

Pope Benedict XVI announced his choices Wednesday in a move which may affect the election of the future pope.

At the end of the weekly general audience, Benedict said he would be appointing cardinals in a surprise consistory, the second to be held this year.

The college, the elite body that advises the pontiff and elects his successor upon his death, is currently heavily weighted in favor of Europe.

A humble, quieter Church

Given the news of his designation, Cardinal-designate Tagle thanked Benedict XVI for his trust and confidence, according to a Vatican Radio report.

Tagle, who is currently in Rome, taking part in a Synod of Bishops on the new evangelization, took the opportunity to speak his message of a quieter, humble Church.

“I know that in some parts of Asia the relative silence, calmness of the Church is interpreted as timidity, but I say no – it makes the Church more credible,” said Tagle.

Furthermore, he said that, while the Church should contribute in the public square, people in Asia are “very particular about the mode.”

“You may be saying the right things but people will not listen if the manner by which you communicate reminds them of a triumphalistic, know-it-all institution,” he said.

He also sees a Church that is in solidarity with the “sufferings of people and the difficult questions they ask” rather than pretending it has all the solutions.

“They can resonate and see the concrete face of God in a Church that can be silent with them, as confused as they are…it becomes a home for them,” he added.

Second youngest cardinal

In Manila, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), where Tagle chairs the Commission on Doctrine of the Faith, said at 55, Tagle will be the world’s second youngest cardinal. It also said Tagle will be the country’s seventh cardinal.

Tagle was installed as the 32nd Archbishop of Manila in December last year, succeeding Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales. The title of Manila archbishop is perceived to be politically influential. The late Jaime Cardinal Sin, who was known for his role in the first EDSA People Power Revolution, was one of those who held the position.

Tagle is also known for being active on social networking site Facebook, as well as for commuting to work on a bicycle. He was also the former bishop of Imus, his hometown in Cavite province.

CNN Senior Vatican analyst John Allen Jr. once touted Tagle as a possible papal contender, despite him not being a cardinal yet, a requirement to become the leader of the entire Catholic Church.

“A striking number of people who know Tagle believe that this is a guy who, one day, could be pope,” Allen wrote.

Pope’s announcement

Pope Benedict XVI’s announcement follows the death of several cardinals in recent months and will bring the number of those eligible to vote back up to the maximum of 120. Cardinals must be young enough — under 80 — to take part in a papal election.

Religious watchers had not expected there to be another consistory until next year. In February, 22 new “princes of the Church” were appointed amid criticism at the number of Europeans and poor representation from elsewhere.

While nearly half of the world’s Catholics are in Latin America, there was only one new cardinal appointed from “the Catholic continent.”

The nomination of seven Italians in Benedict’s fourth consistory also brought to 30 the elector cardinals from Italy — almost a quarter of the total, far outweighing any other country.

The nominations sparked rumors of a power struggle at the heart of the Vatican, with some observers saying that Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone was behind the promotion of Italians up the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy.  (MNS)

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