The new Filipino cardinal, who caused a sensation at his recent installation when he cried as Pope Benedict bestowed the red hat on him, has dismissed media speculation tipping him to be the next pope and has instead called for the Church to undertake a “corporate examination of conscience.”
Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle spoke with ucanews.com in an exclusive interview days after being made a cardinal by the Pope at the Vatican.
Since his appointment as head of the Church in the Philippines capital, Tagle has been catapulted to the top of the papabili list by many Vatican watchers. He’s even been nicknamed the “Wojtyla from Asia.”
His credentials were strengthened by strong speeches on the sexual abuse crisis in Rome last February and in Dublin during the summer, and the credit he enjoys in Rome was confirmed when Pope Benedict decided to make him the world’s second youngest cardinal, at only 55, on November 24.
However, speaking to ucanews.com, Cardinal Tagle dismissed talk of him becoming the next pope as “speculation.”
“There are more real issues to worry about,” he said, adding that after receiving the red hat he was in awe at the thought of possibly being called upon to vote in a future conclave: “I have to reflect on this, it’s a big responsibility.”
Tagle has won over many in his native Philippines as well as in Rome and beyond for his open, joyful attitude, his theological expertise and his proficiency in making use of the modern media. He has a weekly TV show in the Philippines and his Facebook page counts over 100,000 fans.
His outgoing personality might put him in stark contrast to the scholarly, media-shy Ratzinger. But Tagle says it is an “exaggeration” to say that he is the only churchman capable of making the 85-year old German pope laugh from the heart.
The two have known each other for 15 years. In 1997 Tagle was appointed to the International Theological Commission, a Vatican consultative body then presided over by Cardinal Ratzinger.
As a 40-year old priest at the time, Tagle says he was struck by Ratzinger’s humility during a synod of Asian bishops which took place the following year, where several issues were raised concerning the Church in Asia. “At the end of a session, getting out of the room, we happened to walk together and he said, ‘Oh, some of those questions are so complex that I would not even know what to say, but they invite more study’.” [More]