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Get to know Luis Antonio Tagle, the cardinal being eyed to become next pope

By John Patrick Magno Ranara Published Aug 10, 2022 1:55 pm

One of the most prominent Catholic faces in the Philippines, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, is reportedly one of two leading choices being eyed to become the next pope.

According to an article published by the London-based Roman Catholic newspaper Catholic Herald on Aug. 5, the former Archbishop of Manila is being considered to succeed Pope Francis. The other leading papal candidate is Hungarian Cardinal Péter Erdő, the archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest.

The news comes amid rumors that the 85-year-old head of the Catholic Church is set to retire due to a strained knee, which has led to difficulty in walking and traveling.

Should Tagle be chosen, here are some of the things you should know about the Filipino cardinal.

Former Archbishop of Manila

Born on June 21, 1957 in Manila, Tagle is currently 65 years old. After studying philosophy at the Ateneo de Manila University and theology at the Loyola School of Theology, he was ordained into priesthood on February 1982 and spent his first three years in parish ministry at the Diocesan Theological Seminary in Imus.

Before he became a cardinal, Tagle first served as the 32nd Archbishop of Manila after being appointed by former pope Benedict XVI in 2011. The following year, however, Benedict XVI elevated him again to the College of Cardinals.

Speaking on why the former pope appointed him, Tagle said that it was to bring the Philippines closer to the Catholic Church and enrich the faith of the Filipinos.

"The Holy Father wants our archdiocese to be always close to him so that our experience, particularly our testimonies of faith, would become part of his thinking and enrich the universal Church," Tagle said during his first Mass after coming home from Rome in November 2012.

He added, "This is not me being recognized. It is the whole people of God here in Manila and in the Philippines who are being recognized."

Fr. Catalino Arevalo, S.J., a member of the Vatican’s International Theological Commission, said in an interview at Loyola House of Studies in Quezon City that Tagle had "good chemistry" with Benedict XVI, which is one the factors why he was appointed as archbishop.

Tagle was also previously considered to replace the former pope, whose resignation took effect the following year, but the title was eventually given to Pope Francis. 

LGBT community defender

Tagle has been outspoken of his opposition against LGBT discrimination. 

During his address in London in 2015, he said that the Church must abandon its harmful treatment of the LGBT community. He criticized those who use "harsh words" against LGBT Catholics because this has left them feeling socially ostracized.

"The harsh words that were used in the past to refer to gays and divorced and separated people, the unwed mothers etc., in the past they were quite severe. Many people who belonged to those groups were branded and that led to their isolation from the wider society," Tagle said, as reported by The Telegraph.

While the cardinal stressed that he would not abandon the Church's teachings on sexual ethics, he said that an individual's circumstance should be considered.

"Here, at least for the Catholic Church, there is a pastoral approach which happens in counseling, in the sacrament of reconciliation where individual persons and individual cases are taken uniquely or individually so that a help, a pastoral response could be given adequately to the person," he said.

Stance against abortion

Tagle previously announced in 2016 that he condemns all kinds of murder, including abortion. This was while the issue of extra-judicial killings was rampant in the Philippines during former president Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs.

Speaking on Manila Archdiocese-run Radio Veritas, Tagle urged that all forms of life should be protected. 

"Basta taong may buhay, kahit sino pa siya, ang buhay na ‘yun ay sagrado. Alam ko na ngayon na ang malaking usapin ay ang nagiging mga pagpatay. Sabi pati raw sa mga hindi guilty, sa mga inosente, pero kahit nga guilty man o hindi guilty, ang buhay ay dapat alagaan at igalang. At kung guilty, bigyan ng bagong buhaypagkakataong makabangon mula sa lumang buhay," he said.

He continued by airing his worries that only a few people seem to be concerned about abortion, "Sana naman worried din tayo sa abortion. Bakit kaunti ang nagsasalita against abortion? Pagpatay din ‘yan. Unfair labor practices, isang uri rin ‘yan ng pagpatay ng dangal ng manggagawa."

'Chismis' opposer

Tagle has also lamented the spread of fake news in the country.

During a special virtual event titled "The Word Exposed 2022: Lenten Online Recollection" livestreamed during Lenten Season this year, Tagle asked audiences on whether they tired of hearing falsehoods.

"Don’t you get tired of all the lies, the fake news, and the bashing that happens? If we are energized by that, I think we need to pause and examine ourselves: 'How come I am energized by all of this falsehood and lies? And when it comes to truth, I don’t have energy or interest?'" he said.

He hoped that society would tire of spreading disinformation soon.

“If we ever get tired, I hope we would get tired of all the falsehoods that spread around. Kung mapapagod din lang naman tayo, wag tayong mapagod sa mabuti. Mapagod tayo dun sa hindi mabuti,” Tagle said.