Monday, March 4, 2013

TAGLE: Popular Priest and Preacher Who Should Be Pope

In the late 1960s, I was part of a group called LAPVIIR (Laymen’s Association for Post Vatican II Reforms). Concurrently, I was the head of the Young Christian Socialists of the Philippines (YCSP) – Youth Arm of Raul S. Manglapus’ Christian Social Movement (CSM).

For about 89 straight days, LAPVIIR led a sit-down picket in front of the Pro-Cathedral in Manila demanding the church reforms mandated in VATICAN II. While the picket was going on, I had to attend the World Conference of the International Union of Young Christian Democrats in Montevideo, Uruguay. My ticket, which was paid for by the Italian Christian Democrats, brought me to Rome first and visits with the Italian Young Christian Democrats. A meeting with the Vatican Secretariat of State was also arranged for me.

I brought to the attention of the Vatican the concerns and demands of the church demonstrators in the Philippines. I remember the Vatican representative explaining to me that our concerns were also the concern of Catholics in Latin America. He mentioned that they were even launching revolutions there espousing the Theology of Liberation. But he promised to deal with our demands.

Eventually, the Latin Mass was replaced with the English or vernacular Mass and with the Priest facing the churchgoers instead of turning his back on them. The classification of first, second and other classes of baptismal, wedding, funeral and other ceremonials were eliminated. The Archdiocese of Manila, which we found out was the 5th richest and 4th largest contributor to Rome, also decided to allocate more money for the poor through the Catholic Charities following the doctrine, “You cannot preach Christianity to an empty stomach” and “Preferential Option for the Poor”.

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle was one of the authors of the history of Vatican II. So, he knows the type of church reforms that were called for in the past. He also knows the type of changes that are needed to revive the Catholic Church and make it more relevant to this evolving modern digital world.

Research on his life and works shows that Cardinal Tagle knows, both in words and in deeds, the mission of the church and his role as a pastor and Vicar of Christ. In action, in his homilies, and in his writings, he is a great theologian, teacher, and evangelist. He proved himself to be a great communicator using not only the pulpit but also the broadcast and social media in interpreting and explaining in a simple and systematic manner the provisions of the Holy Bible.

As a charismatic speaker, and a brilliant and seriously great thinker, he has been an efficient and effective international diplomat as he travelled worldwide to preach and spread the Word of God.

Strong, healthy and the second youngest Cardinal in the Conclave, he is definitely not of advanced age but with a “strong mind and body”, and with “the capacity to adequately fulfill whatever ministry is entrusted on him.”

Combine the above qualities with his experiences as a parish priest, as a professor, as a Seminary Rector, as Bishop of Imus, Cavite, Archbishop of Manila – administering one of the largest and richest diocese in the world, and all the responsible positions at the Vatican that he occupied concurrently, should be more than enough to qualify him to be the next Pope.


But the Catholic Church is in crisis. Pope Benedict XVI in his resignation letter recognized this “after repeatedly examining his conscience before God; looking at the rapid changes in today’s world; and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith.”

There is a need to elect a new Pope that knows how to deal with the current crisis and future similar ones.

“The socalled crisis of the clergy unfolding these past years is immense in scope. It includes allegations of sexual misconduct, suspicions about the clergy’s handling of money, accusations of misuse of authority, inappropriate lifestyle and a host of other things,” Cardinal Tagle admitted.

Talking about lifestyle and money, I am reminded of our protests in the late 1960s. One of our criticisms against the church at the time was the fact that there were many poor people in Manila yet we had a Cardinal who had a Rolls Royce, a diocese who had virtual control of three commercial banks, a substantial number of shares in several big corporations, and large valuable realty holdings and many more expensive properties.

A bike riding and bus taking pastor and reputed as very pro-poor, Cardinal Tagle’s lifestyle is certainly in sharp contrast.  It was expected, as it is being done, that more Church funds would be allocated to poverty alleviation programs both in the Archdiocese of Manila and definitely worldwide if he becomes Pope.

How would Cardinal Tagle deal with the Church Crisis?

A good example is his response to the allegations of sexual misconduct. He explained the importance of making erring priests face the consequences of sex abuse.

“The priest must be made aware of ecclesiastical and canonical processes governing his particular case. The bishop must carefully observe the procedures especially when the grave matter could lead to dismissal from the clerical state,” Tagle asserted.

His 8-page speech titled “Clergy Sexual Misconduct: Some Approaches from Asia,” gives us a glimpse of how he deals with the issue. He approaches it in several aspects: first, the personal and relational aspect; second, the cultural aspect; third, the ecclesiastical aspect; fourth, the legal aspect; fifth, the media; and finally, the pastoral and spiritual aspect of the crisis.

Indeed, as he masterfully explained, there are personal, cultural, ecclesiastical, legal, media and most importantly, pastoral and spiritual considerations in dealing with the sexual misconduct issue.

He says among others that the Church must make sure that a pastoral care for the victims be instituted; a pastoral care for the pained community where the misconduct occurred; and a pastoral care even for the offending priest are undertaken.

Legally, he wants Churches to instruct their clergy on their country’s legal system. Clerics are not exempt from the observance and weight of the laws of the land.

He also defines the role of superiors and bishops: “Superiors are battered from all sides. They are accused of covering up if they are discreet. If they are firm, they are accused of lack of compassion. But experience has taught that inaction, mere geographic transfer of priests and insensitivity to the victims compromise the integrity of the religious superior or bishop.”

A missionary, a pastor, a theologian and a Vicar of Christ with great wisdom, wit and wonders, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, indeed, should be the next Pope.

1 comment:


    Who is responsible for oversight of the church of Christ?

    First let us establish that Jesus Christ is head of His church.

    Colossians 1:13-18.....18 He is also head of the body, the church......

    Ephesians Christ also is the head of the church....

    The question remains who are the men responsible for the oversight of the Lord's church?

    Did God put a pastor, a bishop, an elder, or an overseer in charge of shepherding His church?

    Pastor, bishop, elder and overseer are the same office.

    Men were given the oversight of each, local, church of Christ.

    Acts 14:23 When they had appointed elders for them in every church, having prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they believed.

    Elders (plural) were appointed in each church congregation.

    Titus 1:5-7 For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you.....7 For the overseer must be above reproach....

    Elders were appointed in every city where there was a church of Christ. Elders were also referred to as overseers (some translations use the word bishops).

    Acts 20:17-28 From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called to him the elders of the church.......28 Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.

    Notice: Elders (plural), and overseers (plural). Elders and overseers are used interchangeably and are told to shepherd the church.

    1 Peter 5:1-2 Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, 2 shepherd the flock of God among you exercising oversight...

    Note: Elders (plural), were told to shepherd the flock of God. Peter said he was one of the elders. Peter did not say he was the Pope or the Head Elder.

    Ephesians 4:11And He gave pastors.....

    The word pastor means shepherd.

    Elder, bishop, overseer and pastor are all the same office and they are to shepherd the local churches of Christ.

    The oversight of the local church is to be a plurality of ELDERS (overseers, bishops, pastors).

    There is no mention in the Bible of one pastor ruling a single church. There is no Scripture indicating one man should rule a world wide church. There is nothing in the Bible that tells us to set up a church board to oversee the local church. God never set up different denominations to be ruled by groups of men. There is no office of Pope or priest mentioned under the New Covenant church of Christ.


    (All Scripture quotes from: NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE)

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