Wednesday, February 20, 2013


After last Sunday’s Mass, my barber called to check if I could lend some time in the next few weeks to express my thoughts on whether Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle could, should, and would be Pope.

My response was, "For this, my time in the next few weeks... consider it LENT! :) :) :)

May the Holy Spirit guide us!

The truth is, for LENT, I have decided to give up a substantial portion of my leisure and/or pleasure time to research on the Papacy and the prospects of somebody like Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle – a Pinoy Pastor and Professor who lived in Washington, D.C. area while writing his doctoral dissertation on “Systematic Theology” on his way to earning his Doctorate of Sacred Theology, SUMMA CUM LAUDE.

PAPA (of 3) Ben with CARDINAL “Chito” Tagle
Pope Benedict XVI’s Resignation Letter


  1. Repeatedly examining his conscience before God;
  2. Looking at the rapid changes in today’s world; and
  3. Shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith;
  1. Strength of mind and body are necessary; and
  2. Ministry be carried out with words and deeds;

He concluded that because of:
  1. Advanced Age; and
  2. Deteriorating strength;

He is no longer:
  1. Suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine Ministry; and
  2. Capable to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted on him.

Therefore: He is resigning as the Bishop of Rome (POPE).

A careful analysis of the resignation letter would show that there is an emphasis on the Age and Strength required to run an institution like the Catholic Church with 1.1 billion members internally, and its relations and relevance to this ever-changing material world externally.

Perhaps, a review of the Age qualification would be a good start in looking at whether Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, indeed, is the Pinoy Pastor who could be Pope.

Many Vaticanists have predicted him to be a future Pope. But how soon was never clear. Surprised by the sudden and unexpected resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, some have initially excluded him among the Papabili because of his “youth”. In fact, this position was even echoed, unfortunately, by a couple of older Filipino Bishops. But that line of thinking is changing systematically.

Could Cardinal Tagle be Pope at his age?

My research shows that the Pinoy Cardinal has all the basic qualifications and none of the disqualifications to be a Pope.

According to some experts on Vatican affairs or what they call “Vaticanists”, under Canon Law (749), under the chapter “The Cardinals of the Holy Church”, it states, “that the cardinals of the church shall make up a special (exclusive) college that has the prerogative to elect the Pope…which however, will be done per ‘norm of special law’.

According to Vaticanist Anura Guruge, by inference and by practice, papal elections shall be governed by apostolic constitutions and papal edicts. Hence, due to Pope John Paul II’s and Pope Benedict XVI’s constitution and edict respectively, only Cardinals below 80 are allowed to vote, and two-thirds of them are required to elect the new Pope.

Pope Nicholas II’s papal edict of 1059 states, that the electors must choose only among cardinal priests and cardinal deacons within the Roman churches. Although it also says that, if necessary, a cleric from other churches could be elected.

Also worth noting is that between 1059 and 1389, 11 of 47 Popes were not cardinals. After that to the present all 63 of the Popes elected have been cardinals. Undoubtedly, the next Pope will be chosen among the cardinals.

A priest must be at least 25 years old to be ordained as one. To be a Cardinal, one must be ordained to priesthood. By inference, a 25-year old priest who became a Cardinal could be Pope.

Under Canon Law (378), to be considered a Bishop, one must be at least 35 years old. So to be a Bishop of Rome – meaning to be a Pope, must you be at least 35 years old?  Guruge made a distinction.  Ordinary Bishops are APPOINTED, but the College of Cardinals - who has the exclusive prerogative to decide the qualifications and choice of a Pope, ELECTS the Bishop of Rome.

Pope Leo X who was selected a Cardinal at the age of 13 became the youngest Pope since 1400 at the age of 37. The second youngest was 45-year old Pope Clement VII.

As written by Vatican Watcher Anura Guruge in his blog, “there had been four other Popes who were elected prior to turning 50 since 1400”.  In the same period to the present, “the average age of the 62 Popes elected was 62.39 years.”

Pope John Paul II was 58 when elected.  Pope Pius IX was 54 when elected. Pope Benedict XVI was, at the age of 78, the 5th oldest Pope since 1400.

At the risk of over-emphasizing, Jesus Christ started his ministry at the age of 30 and none of his disciples was older than 35 when they joined him. In fact, John the youngest in his 20s had the clearest “vision”.

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle is 56 years old - in between the ages of Popes John Paul II and Pius IX when they became heads of the Catholic Church. He is even older than some earlier Popes. Under Canon Law, Special Law (Apostolic Constitutions, Papal Edicts), by inference and/or by practice, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle is without a shadow of doubt qualified to head the Catholic Church.

In fact, as required by the times and as implied by the current Pope, among others, a Cardinal NOT of Advanced Age and NOT of deteriorating strength is needed. Cardinal Tagle fits that description.


Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle could be Pope not mainly because he is of the right age, and is healthy and strong. He could, should, and would be one because he is the right man for the growing Catholic world at these challenging times.

As I will show in subsequent articles, in words and in deeds, he has shown and has been described by others to be a great Pastor and Teacher, and a politically and theologically balanced minister. He is known as a “thinker of real value”; a talented and serious priest and yet warm, witty, and with a great sense of humor.  A simple man, he has the ability to express complex ideas in attractive and understandable language, balanced, and open.

He is best described as one who has a “theologian’s mind, a musician’s soul, and a pastor’s heart”. A bike riding and bus taking humble pastor to “combat isolation”, he invites beggars outside the Cathedral to come in and eat with him.

A great communicator, he is as great a writer/editor, and a sought after speaker and media personality. He knows the role of the regular and social media in evangelization as he speaks the Truth and spreads the Word of God. His homilies, his use of YouTube broadcasting, his Facebook page, his Twitter account, and other forms of social media reflect his pro-poor agenda and his daring questions re priest shortage, priest abuses, and other relevant issues.

He also knows the potential role of the ten million Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in worldwide evangelization and propagation of the Faith.

Most importantly, in this 21st Century, a Vatican expert says that he has become an “important face and voice of the burgeoning Catholic population of Asia.”  Tagle shines as the young and cultured Cardinal in the largest continent where, as the same expert claims,  “the Catholic Church is wagering its future.”

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