Three Asians among new cardinals

Rome: Three Asians are among 20 new cardinals Pope Francis will create during a Feb. 14 consistory in the Vatican, Matters India reported.

One of the pope’s nominees is Archbishop Pierre Nguyen Van Nhon in Hanoi, Vietnam. The Southeast Asian nation has a small but vibrant Catholic community and is one of the few countries with which the Holy See doesn’t have diplomatic relations. However, relations have warmed notably in recent years and some expect full ties to be restored in the near future.

welcome FABC Vietnam N J Viehland photo go

Vietnam Catholics and government officials welcome FABC assembly delegates to Xuan Loc, NJ Viehland Photos

The Pope also nominated Archbishop Francis Xavier Kriengsak Kovithavanij of Bangkok and Archbishop Charles Maung Bo in Myanmar.

They are among new cardinals from 14 countries in total: five are from Europe, three each from Asia and Latin America, and two each from Africa and Oceania.

Fifteen men are under the age of 80, which makes them eligible to vote in a conclave to elect a future pope. The group of cardinals is the second appointed by Pope Francis, who will have chosen nearly a quarter of voting-age cardinals once they are elevated during a ceremony at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican on Feb. 14.

For the second time, the pope chose no new American cardinals. And his nominees in the rich world reflect his preference to focus on smaller cities. For instance, he chose Msgr. Ricardo Blazquez Perez, archbishop of Valladolid, Spain.

Referring to the Vatican, Pope Francis told faithful in St Peter’s Square that the churchmen come “from every continent” and “show the indelible tie with the church of Rome to churches in the world.”

In addition to the 15 new cardinals who are under 80 and thus eligible to vote for the next pope, Francis bestowed the honor on five churchmen older than that.

He said they distinguished themselves for their work in the Vatican bureaucracy, in diplomatic service in giving witness to their love of Christ and God’s people. Those included men from Peru and Mozambique.

Speaking from a Vatican window to a crowd in St Peter’s Square, Francis made another surprise announcement. He said that on February 12-13, he will lead of meeting of all cardinals to “reflect on the orientations and proposals for the reform of the Roman Curia,” the Vatican’s administrative bureaucracy.

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Luis Antonio Tagle, Philippines’ seventh cardinal

By:  N. J. Viehland

Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle receives an honorary doctorate from the Benedictine Fathers’ San Beda College in Mendiola, Manila in March 2012 / N J Viehland Photo

Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio G. Cardinal Tagle who will be officially made a cardinal in today’s consistory in Rome will become the seventh filipino Cardinal in the nearly five-hundred year history of Catholicism in the Philippines.  

Cardinal Tagle follows Cardinals Rufino Santos, Julio Rosales, Jaime Sin and Jose Sanchez, who have all passed away. Cardinals Ricardo Vidal and Gaudencio Rosales are both past 80 years old. Cardinal Rosales will be attending the consistory, Manila archdiocese’s communication officer reported.

Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle discusses with Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales, his predecessor as archbishop of Manila in the sidelines of a plenary assembly of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines in Manila / Dave Viehland Photo published with permission.

Tagle will receive the red hat and the ring, symbols of his membership in the College of Cardinals, during the solemn consistory at St. Peter’s Basilica on November 24, 2012, the eve of the Solemnity of Christ the King. The three-cornered hat is said to be a symbol of a cardinal’s readiness to lay down his life for the gospel. It also signifies his rank in the Church that qualifies him to elect a pope.

In the College of Cardinals, “Every cardinal is a candidate” when election of a pope is required, Canon lawyer Bishop Leonardo Medroso of Tagbilaran, who represents the Eastern Visayas region in the Permanent Council of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) told me in early November.

The Consistory will be held at 11 am (6 p.m. Manila time) and Catholic global television EWTN will broadcast the event.

Philippines’ newest cardinal

Manila-born Tagle, 55, completed his A.B. Philosophy studies at Jesuit-owned Ateneo de Manila University and San Jose Seminary for diocesan priests in 1973. He finished his M.A. studies in Theology at Loyola School of Theology and San Jose Seminary in 1982, the same year he was ordained a priest for Imus Diocese, in Cavite, northern Philippines.

He obtained his licentiate in Sacred Theology from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. in 1987 and his doctorate in Sacred Theology from the same university in 1991.

Pope John Paul II appointed him Bishop of Imus in 2001, a post he served until his installation last December as Archbishop of Manila.

Tagle, whose ministry in the Philippines included serving as parish priest, seminary spiritual director, rector and episcopal vicar for Religious, also taught in various seminaries in his country.

He served as Facilitator for the CBCP National Ongoing Formation of Priests, and acted as consultant of its Episcopal Commission on Seminaries and Commission on the Doctrine of Faith, which he now chairs.

Beyond Church in the Philippines, he was member of the Editorial Board of Storia del Concilia Vaticano II, Instituto per le scienze religiose in Bologna, Italy, and was presenter and member of the drafting committee of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) Plenary Assemblies VI and VII. He has since been elected to head the Office of Theological Concerns of that most authoritative body through which Asian bishops have spoken as a body. Tagle presently holds that post.

When he was ordained a bishop, Tagle was serving in the Vatican’s International Theological Commission. He has served various synods as council member and expert. As a priest in 1998, he was appointed as theologian expert for the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for Asia. He was also appointed member of the Ordinary Council of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops in Vatican City.

He was serving in the Message Committee of the recent Synod on New Evangelization when Pope Benedict announced his elevation to cardinal on October 24, 2012 as the synod was winding down. Five others were also named cardinals to be created in an unusual second consistory in a year. These other new cardinals expected at tonights consistory are from America, Africa and Asia, including:

*Archbishop James Michael Harvey, Prefect of the Pontifical Household, who will be appointed Archpriest of the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls

*His Beatitude Bechara Boutros Raï, Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites (Lebanon)

* His Beatitude Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal, Major Archbishop of Trivandrum of the Syro- Malankara (India)

* Archbishop John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan, Archbishop of Abuja (Nigeria)

* Archbishop Ruben Salazar Gomez, Archbishop of Bogota (Colombia)

Pope Benedict in announcing the new cardinals said, “the Cardinals have the task of helping the Successor of Peter in the performance of his ministry of confirming the brethren in the faith, and that of being the principle and foundation of unity and communion of the Church.” He also asked for prayers “for the newly elected.

Philippine cardinals have performed the task described by the pope in a variety of roles.

Unlike the other Philippine cardinals, Sanchez who died at the age of 91 in the Philippines just last March served all of his active years as cardinal in the Roman curia.

Nuns of the Dominican Daughters of the Immaculate Mother community where Cardinal Jose Sanchez resided until his hospital confinement in March 3, 2012 cover his casket during the funeral Mass at the packed Good Shepherd Cathedral Shrine in Novaliches, Quezon City celebrated on March 12, 2012 by Filipino and foreign priests and bishops led by Cardinal Ricardo Vidal / N. J. Viehland Photo

In 1985 Pope John Paul II  appointed Sanchez  Secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples in Rome three years after he was named archbishop of Nueva Segovia, Ilocos Sur 

Sanchez was elevated to cardinal in 1991 and was appointed prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy and President of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See the same year. He held his position in the Congregation for the Clergy until he retired in 1996.

Catholics have organized thanksgiving Masses for their new cardinal in Imus on Dec. 3 and in Manila the next day. 

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle [second from left] before concelebrating at the funeral Mass for Cardinal Jose Sanchez last March 2012 at Good Shepherd Cathedral in Novaliches with [left to right] Bishops Gilbert Garcera, Camilo Gregorio and Mylo Vergara / N J Viehland Photo

Who knows where Cardinal Tagle’s path will lead from here? Will he be sent down a similar path Sanchez traveled ? Will he be engaged for a longer time for the archdiocese in the way of his predecessors in Manila?


Manila archbishop Tagle tells laity to listen to God, answer the initiator

By N. J. Viehland

Manila’s Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle in his short time in the Philippines between the close of the Synod on New Evangelization in late October and leaving for the consistory last Tuesday night found time to explain separately to catechists and lay people the Message of the Synod on Evangelization.

Gaines Marie Rosa Rio of Manila’s Lay Formation Center said the LAYFORCE Chapel in San Carlos Pastoral Formation Complex, Guadalupe, Makati, was unusually packed to require the back panels to be opened that Saturday, Nov. 17 morning. Tagle was the speaker for that session of the year-round recollection series which took the theme: Shaping the Heart of the Laity in the Year of Faith. As usual there was a mix of men, women, older people, students, many in the crowd Catholics.

Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle explains the Message of the Synod of bishops on New Evangelization by relating the story of Jesus’ meeting with the Samaritan woman at the well to the life experiences and situations in the Philippines. N.J. Viehland Photo

Tagle painstakingly elaborated each section of the synod message, from John’s story of the Samaritan  dwelling on every symbol in the story. He added anecdotes from his own life, and asked the older men and women and the young ones to reflect on what are “empty buckets” in their lives and what are their “favorite wells”.

“It’s not only the Samaritan woman’s bucket that is empty. All of us are searching for some kind of nourishment,” he said in his usual literary Tagalog. He also connected the themes with societal situations, such as next year’s elections.  

Shifting to either English or Tagalog language, he shared that some young people had told him they would like to see even “just a drop of integrity” in adults they know. The youngsters complained that parents, teachers and other adults act contrary to what they say or teach. “No wonder our young go to other wells of fleeting pleasures,”  Tagle said.

He also invited lay people, “Let us lead our brothers and sisters to the well of Jesus. Let us be like the Samaritan woman and tell others of our beautiful encounters with Jesus. It’s a natural impulse to spread good news. Once you experience something good, you cannot control yourself from telling others about it.”

Participants at the Nov. 17, 2012 recollection on the theme Shaping the Heart of the Laity in the Year of Faith at LAYFORCE Chapel, Makati City take down notes as Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle spoke on the Message of the Synod on New Evangelization. N.J. Viehland Photo

I can relate to his next point because I have been receiving email messages, surveys and some other invitations using the theme of the synod. Ending his session, Tagle reminded us lay people:

         “This evangelization and transmission of the faith, let’s not think  we are the initiator. Evangelization and faith experience are first and foremost the action of Jesus, just like in the experience of the Samaritan woman at the well, it was Jesus who first spoke. This is so with the transmission of the faith.

        ” At the synod, there were repeated reminders that we bishops, the priests and you enthusiastic laity might go right ahead into planning, and thinking of what to do. We were reminded that the initiator of evangelization and faith is Jesus himself, not us. It is the action of  grace. It is God’s initiative. It is God’s offer.

       “But we have a role. What is our role? Listen to Jesus. Answer him. Let him change our heart, and our plans will be to cooperate with his plans, with his ways.

      “It was said in the synod a number of times that maybe sometimes our initiatives are not  fruitful because these are our initiatives, and not initiatives of Jesus. So, we keep developing strategies and techniques, but God may have other plans.

       “So our first step is to listen to Him and let his actions begin and we in turn will follow so that our actions are according to his action and movement.

Tagle left much food for thought that could provide reflection points for a whole year. I continue to go through some of them now while he is in Rome preparing for the Consistory that will elevate him to the College of Cardinals on Saturday at St. Peter’s Basilica.

He was named cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI on October 24, 2012, as the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization was winding down. Five others, including two other Asians, were also named Cardinals to be created in an unusual second consistory in a year.

Tagle, 55, was installed Archbishop of Manila on December 12, 2011 and left his office as Bishop of the Diocese of Imus, Cavite, the place where his parents live.

Pope Benedict in announcing the new cardinals said, “the Cardinals have the task of helping the Successor of Peter in the performance of his ministry of confirming the brethren in the faith, and that of being the principle and foundation of unity and communion of the Church.” He also asked for prayers “for the newly elected.”

Participants grasped the hand of Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle to put on their foreheads as a traditional Filipino gesture of respect while thanking him for his talk on Shaping the Heart of the Laity in the Year of Faith at LAYFORCE Chapel, Makati City, Nov. 17, 2012 / Photo by N. J. Viehland

Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle received a picture fram of the Philippines map after he gave a recollection on Shaping the Heart of the Laity in the Year of Faith at LAYFORCE Chapel, San Carlos Pastoral Complex, Guadalupe, Makati City Nov. 17, 2012 / N. J. Viehland Photo

At the LAYFORCE recollection, it looked like Church members came alive, during Tagle’s talk.

Beyond all this, who knows which way The Initiator will lead our Church and new cardinal ? My ears and heart are listening.