Tagle seen as contender for papacy

By Ira Pedrasa, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Feb 12 2013 03:21 PM | Updated as of Feb 13 2013 03:09 AM

Tagle thanks pope for selfless deeds

MANILA, Philippines - Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle was already tagged a papal contender as early as his installment as a new cardinal.

The voice grows stronger that the next to replace Pope Benedict XVI should come from non-European countries, including those in Asia.

In October, CNN Senior Vatican analyst John Allen Jr. said the relatively young prelate – Tagle is only 54 – is the “rising star in the Asian church” and that his appointment by no less than the outgoing pope should be "on the global Catholic radar screen."

Soon after Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger – who became Pope Benedict XVI in 2005 after John Paul II's death – surprised the world with his resignation, Tagle’s name immediately cropped up.

Reuters Religion Editor Tom Heneghan named Tagle as one of the potential popes. A look at media entities abroad also said the same thing.

Over at BBC News, Tagle joined the list of papabiles alongside Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana, Cardinal Marc Ouellet of Canada, Archbishop Angelo Scola of Milan, Cardinal Francis Arinze of Nigeria, Archbishop Christoph Schoenborn of Vienna, Archbishop Odilo Pedro Scherer of Sao Paulo, and Gianfranco Ravasi - President of the Pontifical Council for Culture.

The mainly Catholic Philippines joined the call, with a hashtag in Tagle’s name making it to the world’s Twitter trending list on Monday.

In an interview with dzMM, CBCP Executive Secretary Fr. Francis Lucas said: “[Si Cardinal Tagle] nung ma-appoint siyang cardinal, usap-usapan na 'yan [na posible siyang maging Papa] nagsimula nga dyan sa foreign press, foreign analysts. Nung tanungin siya e tumawa lang siya. Kasama naman siya dun sa... mga may characteristics ng mae-elect na Pope."

"Pero tandaan din natin 42% ng total Catholic population nasa Latin America... Pinag-uusapan na huwag na maging Eurocentric 'yung Catholicism so maaaring makuha dun sa ibang continent, pero compared ang Asia sa mga member ng Catholics sa Africa at Latin America, mas konti tayo."

A spokesman for President Aquino said it is an honor that Tagle has been considered in the list of papabiles.

Asked about reports that the Filipino could be the next pope, Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda quipped: "Vote Tagle for pope!"

He added: "But seriously, it’s up to the conclave to decide who will be the papal contenders. It’s beyond us. It’s up to the cardinals to decide that. Certainly, it’s an honor for the Philippines for news reports to consider Cardinal Tagle as what we call a papabile.”

Tagle saddened

Tagle remained mum on the matter, however, saying only that Pope Benedict’s decision came as a surprise.

In an official statement released to the media, he said: “Let us also pray for the Cardinal Fathers who will elect a new Pope in the coming conclave. In this Year of Faith, let us fix our eyes on Jesus the Good Shepherd. With Him and the Life-giving Spirit, we will journey towards the Father and the Kingdom of God with much hope and love.”

He said the pope's decision brought great sadness.

"We felt like children clinging to a father who bids them farewell. But sadness gives way to admiration for the Holy Father’s humility, honesty, courage and sincerity. His paramount desire is to promote the greater good of the Church."

Tagle said the Papal ministry is not an easy task.

"So we thank Pope Benedict XVI, who was elected Pope at the rather advanced age of 78, for selflessly guiding the Church these past eight years with his teaching, simplicity and gentleness."

He asked the Filipinos to pray for Pope Benedict, whom some say he is close to.


Other bishops also chimed in.

In a report from the CBCP News, former Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines president Archbishop Angel Lagdameo said the pope will spend the rest of his life praying for the church "which is most needed."

“With Pope Benedict XVI praying for the church, the new pope will be greatly helped to bring the church to the mysterious stage to which God is calling the church,” he said.

Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles, meanwhile, said this “Year of Faith” has become “more relevant for us as now” because of the pope’s selfless deeds.