CNS PHOTO | PAUL HARING

Cardinal-designate Luis Tagle of Manila smiles during an interview at the Vatican Oct. 24.

November 5, 2012
CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE

The Filipino cardinal announced Oct. 24 is widely lauded for his theological gifts and his humility.

Cardinal-designate Luis Tagle, 55, of Manila, Philippines, "really takes care of people . . . he's so simple and generous and there's no class structure when he deals with people; everyone is equal in his eyes," said Nemie Anciado.

Anciado is a longtime custodian at the cathedral in Imus, Philippines, where the cardinal-designate was bishop from 2001 to 2011. He spoke to Catholic News Service in October 2011, after his bishop was named archbishop of Manila.

One year later, Pope Benedict announced he would make him a cardinal in a consistory at the Vatican Nov. 24.

Describing to CNS what it was like to hear the announcement that he was being elevated Oct. 24, Tagle fought back tears.

"Listening to the text of the pope's letter being read out to me, I also felt like - here it comes," he said. "It felt like someone far greater than I am is here. Very near."

Admirers have widely lauded the theological gifts of the archbishop known as "Chito."

"The depth of his understanding of theology was already at a far more superior level during our college years," said Ricardo Jalbuena, who attended Jesuit-run Ateneo De Manila University's San Jose Major Seminary with him. "It was always enlightening to have Chito around."

In an interview earlier this year on the Salt and Light TV program Witness, Tagle told Basilian Father Thomas Rosica that during his seminary years, the Philippines was under martial law. Seminary classes emphasized "the call for the Church to be on the side of the poor, to be the voice of the voiceless."

HUMBLE LEARNER

He later was sent to study theology at The Catholic University of America, Washington, where he was mentored by two prominent theologians: Jesuit Father Avery Dulles, who later became a cardinal, and Father Joseph Komonchak, who remains a professor emeritus at the university.

Tagle said he learned many things from Dulles, but especially humility and to be a learner. From Komonchak, he said, he learned to listen to all the different approaches to the truth.

In the Salt and Light interview, he spoke of the relationship between pastoral work and theology, describing pastoral work as "guiding people to the faith. And that's what theology is all about."

"Good theology should be understandable to people, and it even should help them deepen their encounter with the Lord."

Last year, during his installation Mass in Manila, Tagle called on the faithful to look at reality through Jesus' eyes.

"Then we see differently," he said. "A child, especially the unborn, is no longer seen as a burden, but a gift. The youth are not a problem but a promise.

"Women are not objects but persons. Labourers are not machines but partners. The poor are not a nuisance but our jewels, and creation is not an object of manipulation but a sign of God's sustaining love."

In a 2008 address to the International Eucharistic Congress in Quebec, he spoke of being evangelized by Catholics: a woman shutting down her business early to go to a prayer meeting, a poor girl of 13 honest enough to say she did not qualify for a food program.

(The entire Salt and Light TV Witness program with Cardinal-designate Tagle can be seen at www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=eu4ooS5H8sA.)