VATICAN CITY – The priority given by Asian Catholics to "quality of faith" over quantity of faithful can help the Church, a Philippine cardinal seen as a candidate to succeed Pope Benedict XVI said on Saturday.
"Today in the ancient churches -- above all in Europe, where Christians have been the majority for centuries -- there is concern about the future of the Church," Manila archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle told La Repubblica daily.
"This is the first lesson of Catholics in Asia. For us, the vitality of the Church is not measured by how many Catholics there are but by the quality of faith," said Tagle, who is known for his commitment to helping the poor.
Tagle also recounted an anecdote from the grand ceremony in St Peter's Basilica in November last year when the pope made him a cardinal.
After he was seen crying at the public ceremony, Tagle said he apologized to the pope the next day for his emotional outburst. Benedict, he said, responded: "No, you don't have to say sorry. We need heart in the Church!"
Asked about the abuse scandals that have rocked the Church in Europe and North America, Tagle said: "These episodes... make us suffer."
Pope Benedict XVI is set to step down on Thursday, after which a conclave of cardinal electors will be called next month to elect a successor.
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