Manila prelate on pastoral visit to US capital

By Rodney Jaleco, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau

Posted at May 18 2012 09:45 AM | Updated as of May 18 2012 05:45 PM

WASHINGTON D.C. - Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle – one of the youngest cleric to ever hold the important post and a man CNN described as a future papal candidate – will celebrate masses here next week.

This will be his first pastoral visit to a place that he is very familiar with. He spent over 4 years earning his Doctorate in Sacred Theology at the Catholic University of America here, finishing summa cum laude in 1991. He also has a brother, realtor and businessman Manny Tagle, living in northern Virginia.

Groups helping organize the prelate’s visit, led by the Philippine Ambassador’s wife Vicky Cuisia, are scheduling meetings with the Fil-Am community, especially the youth, at Tagle's request.

He will also be attending a conference also in the East Coast.

Jesuit-trained Tagle is widely known for his conservatism and opposition to the Reproductive Health bill that has been languishing in the Philippine Congress, mainly because of stiff resistance from Catholic bishops.

He was chosen to head the Archdiocese of Manila last October, replacing Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales who retired.

Different Fil-Am groups here have been lobbying Capitol Hill as well as the White House to stop funding certain health aid programs for the Philippines that they say promotes abortion and forced sterilizations especially in the countrysides.

In a blog posting, CNN Senior Vatican analyst John Allen Jr. described Tagle as “theologically and politically balanced”.

“He’s taken strong positions against a proposed ‘Reproductive Health’ bill in the Philippines, which includes promotion of birth control. Yet his towering social concern is defense of the poor, and he’s also got a strong environmental streak,” Allen said.

He is known to Pope Benedict XVI who when he was still known as Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, introduced the young Fr. Tagle to Pope John Paul II as a member of the International Theological Commission (1997-2002).

The May 28 mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle, along 1725 Rhode Island NW, will start at 9:00 AM.

The historic church is the seat of the Archdiocese of Washington and where funeral rites were held for Philippine President Manuel L. Quezon before he was interred at the Arlington National Cemetery in 1944. The Philippine Embassy is a stone's throw away.

The May 29 mass is set at 6:30 p.m. at the St. Stephen the Martyr Church on 2436 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.