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.