Philippine Catholic bishops have extolled the appointment of Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle to the “Order of Cardinal Bishops,” the highest rank in the College of Cardinals.
On May 1, the Vatican announced that Pope Francis “decided to co-opt in the Order of Bishops” Cardinal Tagle, awarding him the title of a “suburbicarian Church.”
The former archbishop of Manila, who assumed the post Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples in February, is the first Filipino cardinal who received the promotion.
Bishop Broderick Pabillo, apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Manila, called on the faithful to pray for Cardinal Tagle and his new responsibilities for the whole Church.
“We are happy about his appointment. It shows the trust of the Holy Father, but at the same time the greater expectation from him,” said Bishop Pabillo.
Bishop Roberto Mallari of San Jose said behind the promotion “is a great responsibility” to the Church and its 1.2 billion members around the world.
Bishop Mallari, who heads the Office of Social Communication of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences, urged the Filipino people to “support Cardinal Tagle in his journey.”
Bishop Jose Elmer Mangalinao of Bayombong said his diocese is “honored” by the promotion of Cardinal Tagle. “Indeed, he is so blessed to be a blessing and too gifted to give,” said the bishop.
Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of San Carlos said he was so happy to hear that Cardinal Tagle has been elevated to the rank of cardinal bishops.
“Honestly, I didn’t know that there is such the highest rank among cardinals that exists until now. So thank you [Cardinal Tagle] if not for you, Filipinos would not have known,” said the prelate.
Bishop Alminaza said the appointment “shows how much Our Lord through Our Holy Father has loved and trusted” Cardinal Tagle.
“Your brothers in the episcopacy together with the rest of the Filipino people are very happy, even exultant, for this added honor and pride you are giving to our Church and country,” he said.
“But I also hasten to add that we share with you this heavy responsibility, too in whatever way we can,” added Bishop Alminaza
Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo of Kidapawan said Cardinal Tagle’s added responsibilities mean “a greater call for to walk with the many who need the most the ways to the truth.”
Bishop Bagaforo, who heads Caritas Philippines, said the faithful are very happy because the cardinal “brought pride and honor amidst our struggles today” due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Kalookan said that knowing Cardinal Tagle, “I don’t think such a title would mean much to him.”
“Jesus has always cautioned us about the hazards of receiving honorific titles like this. Pope Francis is very much aware of this,” said Bishop David.
“These are remnants of tradition that [the pope] cannot do much about,” he said.
“The title only means that Cardinal Tagle is now regarded by Pope Francis as one of his closest advisers in the College of Cardinals,” added Bishop David.
Bishop Arturo Bastes, retired prelate of Sorsogon, said the elevation of Cardinal Tagle “is an acknowledgment of the importance of the Church in the Philippines by the Holy Father.”
“Our country seems to assume leadership in the Catholic world after 500 years of Christianization,” he said.
He said the recognition “is a fitting gift of the pope for the fifth centennial celebration of the Introduction of Christianity” to the Philippines and to Asia.
Cardinal Tagle, 62, joins the ranks of 13 other cardinal bishops — 10 of them are from the Latin Church and three cardinal patriarchs from the Oriental Rites.
The College of Cardinals has three ranks: cardinal deacons, cardinal priests, and cardinal bishops.
Cardinal bishops hold jurisdiction over a church in a suburb of Rome while working in departments of the Roman Curia, the central administration of the church.