Monday, March 4, 2013

TAGLE: People Power Pastor Who Would Be Pope

In my last two weekly columns, I have shown why Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle COULD and SHOULD be POPE. Now I will show that based on my analysis, he WOULD be the next POPE.

There are no surveys and no interviews on Papal preference. There are only historical facts and voting patterns that can be used. The Cardinal electors (CARDS) as expected all place their “cards” close to their chest. They are supposed to rely on the HOLY SPIRIT for their choice.

In an interview with Vaticanisti John Allen, a Cardinal elector, after the election of Pope Benedict XVI had this to say, "I was never whapped on the head by the Holy Spirit. I had to make the best choice I could, based on the information available. There are too many contrary instances of Popes the Holy Spirit obviously would have picked!”

This is still an election. Numbers cannot be ignored. So, I based my conclusion on numbers, information, and rational human behavior of the decision-makers and of course, divine intervention.

"Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to the whole creation" (Mk 16:15)

"Enlarge the place of your tent, and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out; hold not back, lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes. For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left, and your descendants will possess the nations and will people the desolate cities" (Is 54:2, 3).

We currently live in a challenging and changing physical and digital world.

Physically, we have a planet populated by more than 7 billion people – 4.2 billion from Asia accounting for over 60%; 1 billion in Africa or 15%; 733 million in Europe or 11%; 600 million in Latin America and Caribbean regions or 9%; 352 million in North America or 5%; and 35 million in Oceania or .5%.

Jesus Christ is Asian. Christianity began in the Middle East-North Africa region. Yet, of the 2.2 billion + Christians, 99% live outside of the region – 12% in North America; 26% in Europe; 24% in Latin America and the Caribbean; 24% in sub-Saharan Africa; and only 13% in the Asia Pacific Region.

Currently, 58.8% of the world’s population is in the Asia-Pacific region and home to majority of the world’s other religions – home to 99% Hindus and Buddhists, 62% Muslims, and 76% unaffiliated religions.

What happened to the Catholic Church’s mission, evangelization and Faith propagation?

The Church’s task is one and the same as from the beginning, but the mission has to assume a new form and method to face the “rapid changes in today’s world”. There is a need for a New Evangelization targeting new places and new people; and most especially, a need for a young, energetic and charismatic new Pope.

It is also a digital, virtual, and mobile world.  The latest data shows that there are about 2.5 billion Internet users. Of these users, 44.8% live in Asia; 7% in Africa; 3.7% in the Middle East; 10.6% in Latin America/Caribbean; 1% in Oceania; 11.4% in North America; and 21.5% in Europe.

At the end of 2011, there were 6 billion mobile subscriptions, as estimated by The International Union. This is equivalent to 86% of the world population.  2.9 billion of these are in Asia; 433 million in Africa; 349 million in the Middle East; 399 million in the Caribbean States; 969 million in The Americas; and 741 million in Europe.

It is now obvious that to "Go into all the world and preach the Gospel” and to "Enlarge the place of your tent” the Church must use social media communications in reaching the digital virtual world for the New Evangelization.

Physically, 89% of God’s children DO NOT live in Europe. Virtually, 78.5% of the digital world IS NOT in Europe. 87.65% of mobile users ARE NOT Europeans.

Yet, 100% of the past Popes have been Europeans.  In the coming Conclave, 61 Cardinals or majority are Europeans; North and South America having 33; Asia, Africa and Oceania have a total of 23. Under normal conditions, the election is stacked in favor of a European becoming Pope again.

But Pope Benedict XVI changed the dynamics. First, by Papal edict he required that the next Pope should obtain at least 2/3 of the votes. Second, by his resignation, he impliedly added a new requirement namely: that a Pope who is of an advanced age, of deteriorating strength; not of strong mind and body; and no longer capable of fulfilling his ministry, should resign; and third, majority of the new Cardinals were his appointees and are assumed to share his views and desire to institute real Church reforms.

The average age of the last 62 Popes is 62.39 years old. Anybody below such an age and with a strong mind and body would indeed be ideal.

To be elected, the new Pope needs 77 votes.  How will Cardinal Tagle get these votes? First, he is Asian. He could rally the support of the Asian Cardinal electors. Second, he belongs to the Third World. As Vaticanisti Magister said, “he is the most viable candidate from the Third World capable of attracting votes. Third, he is a Filipino and part Chinese educated in Europe as well as in the United States. A mix of the Western and Eastern cultures influenced him. His language is not just Malayan but Hispanic as well. He will obtain votes from a substantial number of non-Italian Cardinals.  On later balloting, he would also get votes from some of the Italian Cardinals.  After all, in some places in Italy, there are more Filipino churchgoers than Italians.

Translated into numbers, I see the votes for Cardinal Tagle to come from the following: 23 from Asia, Africa and Oceania; 33 from North and South America; 29 from non-Italian European Cardinals; and 9 Italians.

Optimistic? Of course I am, but with valid reasons.  

Quantitatively, the Church’s New Evangelization mission means reaching the greatest number in the shortest possible time. This further means, as I pointed out, giving as much priority to the Third World (Asia, Africa, Oceania & Latin America) where the numbers are, both physically and virtually.

Qualitatively, the Cardinal electors (CARDS) would be looking for somebody to lead and personify this New Evangelization targeting the greatest mass of people.  They seek one like Cardinal Tagle who, as John Allen described, “incarnates the dramatic growth of Catholicism outside the West, putting a face on the dynamic and relatively angst-free form of Catholicism percolating in the southern hemisphere.”

The CARDS would choose a great and effective communicator and a new evangelist who impressed them at the Synod of Bishops as he equated the New Evangelization to a Catholic Church that’s “humbler, simpler, and with a greater capacity for silence.” One who knows how to use the social media (Facebook, Twitter, You Tube), TV and Radio Broadcasting, and other means of net connectivity to reach the Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants, and Netizens.

The CARDS would see in Tagle a grounded Vicar counting on his experience as a People Power Parish Priest, Teacher, Rector and, most importantly, a Pastor who knew his mission and ministry as a former Bishop of the poorer Imus Archdiocese, and that of the richer and larger Archdiocese of Manila.

He has been exposed to the Vatican bureaucracy first, as a student, and second, as an appointee to certain strategic and responsible positions in Rome. He developed good relationships with many of the bureaucrats and the current CARDS. He is familiar with the institutional problems and possible solutions.  He will continue to have access to Pope Benedict XVI, his benefactor.


Listening and learning is part of his management style. This gives more room to hearing what the Holy Spirit desires to impart. At the age of three, he learned to pray the rosary memorizing all the mysteries. As a student he obtained the highest grades in school history earning him the title,SOBRESALIENTE (excellent, perfect, straight A). In college and graduate school, he earned his degrees, SUMMA CUM LAUDE – in fact, two of them.

While his talents were God-given, he had to learn by listening and was tested, measured and graded. His answers and grades were perfect – the closest thing to infallibility; most likely with the aid of the Holy Spirit. This striving for perfection he would bring to the PAPACY.


The specific objections to the other frontrunners for the Papacy are quite compelling.  I am sure the CARDS are familiar with them as discussed byVaticanists Allen and Magister.

But the ones against Cardinal Tagle are weak. In fact, they could be turned into an additional advantage.  Being young at 56 is not necessarily a liability. The resignation of Pope Benedict XVI reinforces the need for a younger, healthier and more energetic Pope.  Saying that he would “make a great Pope someday” is like delaying the type of ministry required at this point in history. Let me repeat, Jesus Christ started his ministry at the age of 30. In these modern times, we have had leaders like Kennedy, Clinton, and Obama in their 40s and Aquino in his 50s. In the corporate digital world, brethren like Zuckerberg, Jobs and Gates were in their youth when they made their mark.

Not being a Vatican “insider” is no argument either. Tagle is better at instituting changes coming from the outside provided that he listens and uses the enormous powers vested upon him.


The process of electing the Pope is democratic. But technically, once elected, his powers are absolute. While there are legislative, judicial and executive powers delegated to certain institutions, the final say is still with him. In fact, on certain matters, he is infallible.

For this reason, the right Pope would be able to make the right changes and use the right tools and resources for the New Evangelization as he fulfills his ministry as Vicar of Christ.

That right Pope is Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle! With the help of the Holy Spirit, it is in the CARDS’!

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