Cardinal Tong grateful for Pope Benedict’s loving concern for Church in China

Hong Kong’s  Cardinal John Tong Hon thanked Pope Benedict XVI for his “loving concern” for the Church in China, citing actions the pope had taken to show this. The cardinal expressed his gratitude in a message on the pope’s resignation released by his office.

The cardinal who served as president of the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization held in Rome last October is voting in a conclave for the first time. Following is the full text of Cardinal Tong’s message released by his office:

Heartfelt Thanks to the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI

  Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, the successor of St. Peter and head of the Apostles, has always loved the Church, putting all his heart and energy into the pastoral service of the People of God. As the Bishop of Hong Kong, I am especially thankful for his loving concern for the Church in China.

In 2007 he issued a Letter to the Catholics in China and established the Commission for the Catholic Church in China. At the end of every meeting of that Commission, he came to see the members in person and encouraged us. On February 10, one day before he announced his decision to resign, he extended special greetings and a blessing to people celebrating the Lunar New Year throughout the world, especially Chinese people everywhere. In his words and deeds, the Holy Father has fittingly mirrored the exchange between the Risen Jesus and Simon Peter: “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these others do?” “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” “Feed my sheep.” (cf. John 21:15-17)

The Holy Father, Benedict XVI, is a man of fervent prayer. In his statement announcing his resignation from the Petrine Ministry due to his advanced age, he pointed out that he had finally made this serious decision after a long period of prayer and extended reflection. He is deeply aware that in order to fulfill his papal duties, he cannot rely on word and deed alone, but also needs prayer. He entrusts the future of the Church to the Lord Jesus and to our Blessed Mother. After he resigns, he will serve the Church wholeheartedly through prayer. We express our heartfelt thanks to the Holy Father, Benedict XVI, for his guidance and good example, and we will always pray for him.

We have profound faith that both the resignation of the Holy Father, Benedict XVI, and the selection of his successor, are in the wise hands of Divine Providence. May all of us Catholics in Hong Kong pray for the smooth election of the next Pope. We firmly believe that the incoming Pope will lead the Church according to the holy will of the Lord Jesus and ecclesial tradition, and that he will continue the proclamation of the Gospel, to bring salvation to the whole human race. This is also the objective of the Year of Faith which we are now celebrating.

+Cardinal John TONG

Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong

February 12, 2013

Cardinal Tagle tells what the Year of Faith can contribute to the Christmas spirit

By N.J. Viehland

In his second Christmas message as Archbishop of Manila, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle connected the spirit of Christmas to  the Year of Faith declared by Pope Benedict XVI from October 11, 2012 to November 24, 2013.

Manila Archbishop Luis Cardinal Tagle blesses the faithful who joined the Mass last November launching the archdiocese's commemoration of Year of Faith at San Fernando de Dilao Church in Paco, Manila. (N. J. Viehland photo)

Manila Archbishop Luis Cardinal Tagle blesses the faithful who joined the Mass last November launching the archdiocese’s commemoration of Year of Faith at San Fernando de Dilao Church in Paco, Manila. (N. J. Viehland photo)

Cardinal Tagle highlights God’s action of coming to believers and initiating the relationship with them both as faithful, as well as in the Christmas story. Jesus’ invitation to a relationship, and one’s acceptance of the invitation carries a commitment and responsibility to share in God’s saving mission, Cardinal Tagle said.

Following is the text of Cardinal Tagle’s message emailed to journalists by Manila archdiocese’s office of communication on Dec. 20.

CHRISTMAS MESSAGE 2012

This year we celebrate the Christmas Season within the Year of Faith declared by Pope Benedict XVI. What can the Year of Faith contribute to the Christmas spirit? Faith is a living and sustained relationship with God. It is the Triune God who initiates this relationship by coming to us. Faith becomes complete in our response to God in trust and love, transforming our relationship with other people, society and creation.

Children join a re-enactment of Joseph and Mary's search for a room in the inn carrying streamers that plead, "Christmas, stop demolitions" of shanty homes built by migrant settlers on government of privately-owned land. (Ed Gerlock photo published with permission)

Children join a re-enactment of Joseph and Mary’s search for a room in the inn carrying streamers that plead, “Christmas, stop demolitions” of shanty homes built by migrant settlers on government of privately-owned land. (Ed Gerlock photo published with permission)

In a real sense, Christmas is all about faith. To remove faith from Christmas is to empty it of its meaning. It is a season born of faith and a privileged time to renew our faith. On the one hand, Christmas vividly recalls the coming of the Savior Jesus Christ, incarnate by the power of the Holy Spirit. He comes as one like us except in sin, because as the Savior he cannot participate in humanity’s rejection of God. He opens the door for us to enter God’s life. His obedience and fidelity is the door to God. He is the way.  On the other hand, every Christmas season invites us to receive Jesus as the true Son of God become flesh, to accept him as our Savior and to enter the door to life in the Holy Spirit. Faith in God leads us to solidarity with our neighbors, especially the poor whom Jesus loves. Faith makes us sharers in Jesus’ saving mission and heralds of true freedom from all that enslaves us.

Children in impoverished communities around Manila survive with very little food and other basic needs. (Ed Gerlock photos published with permission)

Children in impoverished communities around Manila survive with very little food and other basic needs. (Ed Gerlock photos published with permission)

I pray that all Christians may appreciate more the precious gift of faith during this Christmas season. As we behold the Christ Child, humble and poor, let us thank God for his great love for us and let us respond with all the love we could give. Only pure divine love can save us! I wish all you and your loved ones a Blessed Christmas and a Peaceful New Year!

+ LUIS ANTONIO G. CARDINAL TAGLE

Archbishop of Manila

Advent in Vietnam during the 10th FABC Plenary Assembly 2012

N. J. Viehland Photos

 

A symbol of the Star of Bethlehem hanging around Xuan Loc Pastoral Complex remind delegates and guests attending activities of the 10th Plenary Assembly of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences about the meaning of Advent, the season during which the assembly commemorating the 40th anniversary of effectivity of FABC's Statutes and studying together challenges to the Church in Asia. (N. J. Viehland Photo)

A symbol of the Star of Bethlehem hanging around Xuan Loc Pastoral Complex remind delegates and guests attending activities of the 10th Plenary Assembly of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences about the meaning of Advent, the season during which the assembly commemorating the 40th anniversary of effectivity of FABC’s Statutes and studying together challenges to the Church in Asia. (N. J. Viehland Photo)

Indian Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai led the opening Eucharist for the 10th Plenary Assembly of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences (FABC) . The statutes of the voluntary association of episcopal conferences in South, Southeast, East and Central Asia was approved by the Holy See on Nov. 16, 1972. The federation has been created to foster among its members solidarity and co-responsibility for the welfare of Church and society in Asia, and to promote and defend whatever is for the greater good. Filipino Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales served as Pope Benedict XVI's official representative to the assembly whose activities were held in Xuan Loc and Ho Chi Minh City from Dec. 10-16. (N.J. Viehland Photo)

Indian Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai led the opening Eucharist for the 10th Plenary Assembly of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) . The statutes of the voluntary association of episcopal conferences in South, Southeast, East and Central Asia was approved by the Holy See on Nov. 16, 1972. The federation has been created to foster among its members solidarity and co-responsibility for the welfare of Church and society in Asia, and to promote and defend whatever is for the greater good. Filipino Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales served as Pope Benedict XVI’s official representative to the assembly whose activities were held in Xuan Loc and Ho Chi Minh City from Dec. 10-16. (N.J. Viehland Photo)

Filipino Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales (in front), Archbishop Emeritus of Manila was welcomed by a drum and bugle corps and a reception line stretching through the main roads of Xuan Loc Pastoral Complex in the diocese east of Ho Chi Minh City on Dec. 11, 2012, after he delivered his address citing Pope Benedict XVI's message to the 10th Plenary Assembly of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences (FABC). He is accompanied by Assistant of the Papal Legate Father Marcelino Antonio M. Maralit, Jr. (N.J. Viehland Photo)

Filipino Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales (in front), Archbishop Emeritus of Manila was welcomed by a drum and bugle corps and a reception line stretching through the main roads of Xuan Loc Pastoral Complex in the diocese east of Ho Chi Minh City on Dec. 11, 2012, after he delivered his address citing Pope Benedict XVI’s message to the 10th Plenary Assembly of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC). He is accompanied by Assistant of the Papal Legate Father Marcelino Antonio M. Maralit, Jr. (N.J. Viehland Photo)

The Grand Chapel is one of five chapels on the block of buildings in Xuan Loc Pastoral complex where Saint Joseph Seminary stands. The seminary's introductory booklet says this chapel is built in the shape of three rice buds indicating the impending rich harvest of the Church. In front of the chapel Vietnamese Catholics, mostly from Xuan Loc diocese, lined the pastoral complex road to welcome bishops and other delegates from around Asia, the Vatican and other continents, at the opening of the 10th Plenary Assembly of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conference on Dec. 11, 2012. (N. J. Viehland Photo)

The Grand Chapel is one of five chapels on the block of buildings in Xuan Loc Pastoral complex where Saint Joseph Seminary stands. The seminary’s introductory booklet says this chapel is built in the shape of three rice buds indicating the impending rich harvest of the Church. In front of the chapel Vietnamese Catholics, mostly from Xuan Loc diocese, lined the pastoral complex road to welcome bishops and other delegates from around Asia, the Vatican and other continents, at the opening of the 10th Plenary Assembly of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conference on Dec. 11, 2012. (N. J. Viehland Photo)

Xuan Loc was created in 1965 from places under the pastoral care of Ho Chi Minh City archdiocese. In 2010, more than 35 percent of the 2.34 million people living in the diocese had been baptized Catholics. Today, more than 1,700 women religious are helping in Church ministries diocesan officials say. Many of them contributed to discussions, services and operations in support of the 10th Plenary Assembly of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences Dec. 10-16, 2012. (N. J. Viehland Photo)

Xuan Loc was created in 1965 from places under the pastoral care of Ho Chi Minh City archdiocese. In 2010, more than 35 percent of the 2.34 million people living in the diocese had been baptized Catholics. Today, more than 1,700 women religious are helping in Church ministries diocesan officials say. Many of them contributed to discussions, services and operations in support of the 10th Plenary Assembly of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences Dec. 10-16, 2012. (N. J. Viehland Photo)

Philippines Archbishop Jose Palma was among 13 presidents of Catholic Bishops Conferences in Asia who joined the 10th Plenary Assembly of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences in Xuan Loc and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam Dec. 10-16, 2012. (N. J. Viehland Photo)

Philippines Archbishop Jose Palma was among 13 presidents of Catholic Bishops Conferences in Asia who joined the 10th Plenary Assembly of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences in Xuan Loc and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam Dec. 10-16, 2012. (N. J. Viehland Photo)

Participants, including Ursuline Sister Mary Walter Santer processed from the Xuan Loc diocesan offices building to the auditorium for the opening of the 10th Plenary Assembly of the Federation of the Asian Bishops' Conferences (FABC) on Dec. 11, 2012. Sister Santer was honored at the assembly for her long-time service as Executive Secretary of the FABC Office of Consecrated Life, a post now held by Religious of the Assumption Sister Deanna Maria Villavert Combong. (N. J. Viehland photo)

Participants, including Ursuline Sister Mary Walter Santer processed from the Xuan Loc diocesan offices building to the auditorium for the opening of the 10th Plenary Assembly of the Federation of the Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) on Dec. 11, 2012. Sister Santer was honored at the assembly for her long-time service as Executive Secretary of the FABC Office of Consecrated Life, a post now held by Religious of the Assumption Sister Deanna Maria Villavert Combong. (N. J. Viehland photo)

On Friday, December 14, the plenary hall during the evening prayer filled with voices of hope singing:

“Waiting in silence, waiting in hope; We are your people, we long for you, Lord. God ever with us, Emmanuel, Come, Lord Jesus, Maranatha! –  “Waiting in Silence” by Carey Landry

Reports from the FABC plenary assembly are posted on the FABC’s website with photos on the website Gallery

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?

End