Ludicrous, unfounded: Bishops refute Duterte’s claim on Tagle’s transfer to Rome

Erik Tenedero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 12 2020 07:19 AM

MANILA - Several bishops have denied the claim of President Rodrigo Duterte that former Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle was transferred to Rome because of meddling in politics.

In a Facebook post on Wednesday, Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David called the president’s claim as “unbelievably ludicrous.”

The bishop also said in a report from CBCP News that the president should instead focus on real issues like the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus in the Philippines and allegations of illegal activities in the operations of Chinese offshore gambling.

“I suggest that we go back to the real issues of the day,” said David, who is also the vice president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.

Meanwhile, the Archdiocese of Manila’s Apostolic Administrator Bishop Broderick Pabillo refused to "dignify" Duterte's attack against Tagle.

“No need to dignify unfounded accusations,” Pabillo said.

Tagbilaran Bishop Alberto Uy also defended Tagle, saying the cardinal enjoys the pope’s “trust and confidence.”

“He is a model of humility, kindness, integrity and holiness. I am a personal witness to his exemplary intelligence and Christian virtues,” Uy added.

In a speech at the 2020 General Assembly of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines on Tuesday, Duterte claimed that Pope Francis was angered by Tagle’s meddling in politics that’s why he was removed from his post in Manila.

The president also said this is the reason why the country’s capital has no ruling bishop and was only given a caretaker by the Vatican.

Tagle’s transfer as prefect of the powerful Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples was seen by many Vatican observers as one of the most significant appointments in Francis’s pontificate.

In fact, there are only nine congregations within the Roman Curia, the central governing body of the Catholic Church, and Tagle’s department is one of the most influential given its missionary role.

As Manila lost its archbishop, church laws dictate that an apostolic administrator may be assigned to act as a caretaker of the archdiocese.

When Tagle left the Philippines to assume his new post in Rome, the Archdiocese of Manila was rendered “sede vacante”, meaning the seat being vacant hence the appointment of Pabillo as apostolic administrator.

It takes months before the appointment of a new bishop as the process requires tedious steps starting from the local diocese, the pope’s representative in that particular country all the way to the Congregation of Bishops in Rome, and ultimately the pope.

Duterte has been at odds with the Catholic Church due to their opposing stance on various issues like the war on drugs, contraception, among others.