Thursday, May 17, 2012


Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle – one of the youngest cleric to ever hold the important post and a man CNN described as a future papal candidate – will celebrate Holy Mass at the historic St. Matthew Cathedral on May 28 and at the St. Stephen Church the next day.

This will be his 1st pastoral visit to a place that he is very familiar with. He spent over 4 years earning his Doctorate in Sacred Theology at the Catholic University of America, finishing summa cum laude in 1991. He also has a brother, realtor and businessman Manny Tagle, living in Northern Virginia.

Groups helping organize the prelate’s visit, led by the Philippine Ambassador’s wife Vicky Cuisia, are scheduling meetings with the Fil-Am community, especially the youth. 

Jesuit-trained Msgr. Tagle is widely known for his conservatism and is a staunch opponent of the Reproductive Health Bill that has been languishing in the Philippine Congress, mainly because of stiff resistance from Catholic bishops.

He was chosen to head the Archdiocese of Manila last October, replacing Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales who retired.

Different Fil-Am groups here have been lobbying Capitol Hill as well as the White House to stop funding certain health aid programs for the Philippines that they say promotes abortion and forced sterilizations especially in the countrysides.

At a recent forum in Manila, Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and one-time contender to head the World Bank, said Philippine fertility rates were too high and made it difficult to curb poverty.

“The Philippines of course is a very complicated country. It’s very crowded. The population has increased more than four times since 1950. The fertility rates remain quite high in this country, I think too high, actually, because most places that have really made the breakthrough -- sustained economic growth, more social inclusion -- had their fertility rates coming down voluntarily to the replacement level, two children per household,” he said at an interview with BusinessWorld.

In a blog posting, CNN Senior Vatican analyst John Allen Jr. described Msgr. Tagle as “theologically and politically balanced”.

“He’s taken strong positions against a proposed ‘Reproductive Health’ bill in the Philippines, which includes promotion of birth control. Yet his towering social concern is defense of the poor, and he’s also got a strong environmental streak,” Allen said.

He is known to Pope Benedict XVI who when he was still known as Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, introduced the young Fr. Tagle to Pope John Paul II as a member of the International Theological Commission (1997-2002).

 “He drew rave reviews for his performance at a 2008 International Eucharistic Congress in Quebec, where observers say he brought an entire stadium to tears,” CNN’s Allen wrote.

“Vatican-watchers also rated him among the most impressive contributors to both the 2005 Synod on the Eucharist and the 2008 Synod on the Word of God. He’s also a very 21st century prelate—he hosts a program on YouTube and he’s got his own Facebook page,” Allen added.

Msgr. Tagle, who taught theology at Ateneo University, is currently Chairman for the Episcopal Commission.

“Back in the Philippines,” Allen continued, “it would be a gross understatement to say that Tagle, who goes by the nickname ‘Chito’, is simply well-liked. In truth, most Filipino Catholics I know love the guy — for his warmth and humor, for his simplicity (he routinely eschews clerical dress), for his ability to express complex ideas in attractive and understandable argot, for his balance and openness, and for his lack of ego.”

The May 28 Mass to be officiated by Archibishop Tagle will start at 9:00 AM. The Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle is located along 1725 Rhode Island NW, just a few blocks away from the Philippine Embassy.

The May 29 Mass is set at 6:30 PM at the St. Stephen the Martyr Church on 2436 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. (rjj)

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