Top Vatican reporter writes book about Cardinal Tagle

Paterno Esmaquel II
Top Vatican reporter writes book about Cardinal Tagle
In an e-mail to Rappler, author Cindy Wooden says Cardinal Tagle’s pastoral approach 'resembles the pastoral approach of Pope Francis'

MANILA, Philippines – Veteran Vatican journalist Cindy Wooden, Rome bureau chief of the Catholic News Service (CNS), has written a new book about the man described as “the Asian Pope Francis.” 

Wooden wrote Luis Antonio Tagle: Leading By Listening, a profile of Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle, published as part of a series by the 89-year-old Liturgical Press in Minnesota, USA. 

In an e-mail to Rappler, Wooden said Claretian Communications is set to publish and distribute her book in the Philippines.

The author said Liturgical Press invited her to write about Tagle. She said she “enthusiastically agreed” to do the book after seeing Tagle “in action at the Vatican, at press conferences, and at Mass.” She said, “I wanted to know what makes him ‘tick,’ and I believed others would find it interesting and inspiring as well.”

What is the most interesting part of her book?

Wooden said: “I think his vocation story is unique and priceless! But I think the most interesting part of the book is how much his pastoral approach resembles the pastoral approach of Pope Francis: Listening to others, especially the poor; praying about what one sees and hears; trying to identify how God is at work in every situation; and then making a decision that addresses real needs.”

On, the write-up on Wooden’s book explained: “Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle has been called ‘the Asian Pope Francis,’ because of his humility, his connectedness to the lives of everyday Catholics, and his insistence on the church’s duty to care for the poor and the marginalized.”

CARDINAL'S PROFILE. Written by veteran journalist Cindy Wooden, 'Luis Antonio Tagle: Leading by Listening' is soon to be published and distributed in the Philippines. Image of book cover courtesy of Cindy Wooden

In Luis Antonio Tagle: Leading by Listening, veteran Catholic journalist Cindy Wooden offers a poignant look at this archbishop of Manila who has impressed Catholics around the world,” the write-up said. 

Tagle has captivated Vatican watchers across the globe, for one, because of his speeches that have driven his audience to tears. (READ: Tagle’s words that struck the world) 

Why Tagle is the ‘Asian Francis’

The former bishop of Imus, Cavite, also shares many things in common with Francis. One of these, as Wooden said, is their pastoral approach. 

Others include their affinity with the poor and even their Jesuit training. Tagle studied in the Jesuit-run San Jose Seminary in the Philippines, while Francis is the first Jesuit pontiff. 

John Allen Jr, another veteran Vatican reporter, in fact, called Tagle “the Asian Francis.” 

Francis himself has shown much trust in the Filipino cardinal. 

Under Francis, for instance, Tagle has received at least 5 new international positions in the Catholic Church. One of these is as president-delegate of one of the Pope’s pet projects, the Synod of Bishops on the Family.

Profiling this Asian Francis, Wooden told Rappler: “I hope the book will inspire people to listen to others with great respect like he does, even if it’s just members of their own family. 

“And that they – and I – would make a habit each day of trying to identify where God is at work, instead of always focusing on what’s going wrong. I think that would make all of us more joyful and compassionate,” the veteran journalist said. 

Wooden started as the Rome bureau chief of the CNS in July, the CNS said.

A leader in reporting on the Catholic Church, the CNS is a 95-year-old news agency founded by American bishops and headquartered in Washington. 

Wooden started working with the CNS in 1988, and studied interreligious dialogue at the Jesuit-run Pontifical Gregorian University. She wrote another book, Pope Francis: A Guide to God’s Time, published by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and Vatican publishing house LEV in 2014. –

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Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at