Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle is the Philippine’s “gift” to the universal Church, the head of the Catholic hierarchy said Sunday as they bid goodbye to the outgoing Manila archbishop.
CBCP President, Archbishop Romulo Valles, while addressing the farewell ceremony, said that there are more reasons to be joyful than to be sad on Tagle’s new mission.
“We would like to tell the world that he is the gift of the Filipinos to the universal Church and to Rome,” he said, drawing applause from other bishops.
“We are sad but I think that you will agree with me that one of the wonderful gifts that the Church in the Philippines (has) is in the person of Cardinal Chito,” Archbishop Valles said.
The Davao archbishop also regarded the cardinal as the country’s “national flag carrier” who carries the faith of Filipinos to the world.
“It is our prayer that the Lord will continue to bless you and keep you joyful in your difficult task,” he said.
The farewell dinner was held as more than 90 bishops from all over the country gathered for their plenary assembly in Manila over the weekend.
Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, CBCP Vice President, was also all praises of the cardinal.
The two were together in San Jose Seminary although Tagle was one year ahead of David.
The bishop recalled that one of the things they always look forward to as students of philosophy was the review classes facilitated by Tagle “because he could simplify complicated thoughts”.
“That was the rare gift of Cardinal Chito,” David said. “His brightness seemed to brighten other people.”
For his part, Cardinal Tagle admitted still having confusion in his heart and mind now that he will leave the country for a new mission.
One time, Tagle shared that he was in a chapel to “present this dilemma” and in the end, “the clincher is where can you follow Jesus—the poor, the crucified.”
“And it pointed me to that path,” he said. “So I really cried and cried there in the chapel but there was peace that the cross was the main criteria in the end.”
At one part of the gathering, the bishops surrounded Cardinal Tagle and sung “You’ll never walk alone.”
On Monday, several bishops, priests, nuns, and laypeople prayed over Tagle as he prepares to leave for his new Vatican post.
During the Thanksgiving Mass at the Manila Cathedral, the cardinal knelt before the congregation as they raised their hands towards him while praying.
In December 2019, Pope Francis appointed Tagle as Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, a powerful department at the Roman Curia.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has approved on Saturday the institutionalization of the “Red Wednesday” campaign in the country.
The bishops unanimously agreed to make the campaign an official Philippine Church celebration to raise awareness of the plight of persecuted Christians around the world.
Red Wednesday is an initiative of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), a global Catholic pastoral aid organization.
“This formally makes the Red Wednesday an official day of observance in all churches and Catholic institutions in the Philippines,” said Jonathan Luciano, ACN Philippines national director.
The decision was made during the first day of their plenary assembly at the Pope Pius XII Catholic Center in Manila.
More than 90 bishops are currently gathered for the biennial meeting, which will end on Jan. 27.
“The overwhelming support makes the Philippines the first country to do this. We will do this, and we will continue to do this for every Christian in need,”. Luciano said.
First organized in the United Kingdom in 2016, the Philippines started joining the campaign in 2017.
Red is the Christian color of martyrdom and studies have shown that Christians remain the most “persecuted” faith group in the world, particularly in the Middle East and Africa.
Luciano said the event will be held on a Wednesday every after the Solemnity of Christ the King.
Last November, more than 2,100 Church edifices across the Philippines were lit in red to mark Red Wednesday, the largest turnout of the global event.
“May this serve as an inspiration to other countries as well, especially to nations like ours, which are of major concern when it comes to persecution,” said Luciano.
Filipino Archbishop Bernardito Auza has formally assumed the Vatican’s top diplomatic post in Spain.
Archbishop Auza met with Filipe VI, King of Spain, to present his credentials at Royal Place in Madrid on Jan. 16.
Following the ceremony, the archbishop had a brief meeting with the Spanish monarch, who was dressed in royal military attire.
The ceremony dates back to the 18th century and maintains traditions that have remained the same to this day.
Credentials are documents that accredit a foreign ambassador as representative and maximum diplomatic authority of another country in Spain.
Born in Talibon, Bohol, Auza was ordained a priest for the Tagbilaran diocese in 1985. He was incardinated to the Diocese of Talibon in 1986.
In June 1990, he entered the diplomatic service of the Holy See and served in the apostolic nunciatures of Madagascar, Bulgaria, Albania.
He also served as a member of the Permanent Mission of the See to the United Nations before assuming his post as Apostolic Nuncio in Haiti in 2008.
In 2014, he was named permanent observer of the Holy See before the UN and before the Organization of American States (OAS).
Last Oct. 1, Pope Francis appointed Auza, who is fluent in Spanish language, as the Apostolic Nuncio to Spain and Andorra.
Auza assumed his new post around a year before the celebration of the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Christianity in the Philippines through the Spanish missionaries.
In a divided and fragmented world, I want to invite all believers, and also all people of good will, to reconciliation and fraternity. Our faith leads us to spread the values of peace and mutual understanding, of the common good. We pray that Christians, followers of other religions, and all people of goodwill may promote together peace and justice in the world.