(2nd UPDATE) MANILA, Philippines – The country has a new cardinal.
Pope Benedict XVI announced on Wednesday, October 24, he will convene a consistory where he will formally appoint Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle as among 6 new cardinals. The consistory will be held on November 24. During this assembly, the 6 new members of the College of Cardinals will receive the cardinal’s ring, among other symbols, as the Pope formalizes their appointment as “princes” of the Catholic Church.
In an interview after his appointment, Tagle said he wants the Church not to become a “triumphalistic, know-it-all type of institution.” (Read: New PH cardinal tells Church: Be humble.)
As cardinal, Tagle will become the Pope’s special adviser and assistant, and will have the right to vote for a new pope in case the current one dies or resigns. He is the head of the Philippines’ biggest diocese.
Tagle is said to be close to Benedict XVI, having worked with him when the latter was then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Pope Benedict mentored him when he was finishing his doctoral thesis in sacred theology, according to sources privy to this information.
Ordained at 25 years old, he became Archbishop of Manila 29 years later, occupying the most influential position of the Catholic Church in the country.
Former bishop of Imus before he became Archbishop in December 2011, Tagle was the 32nd Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Manila. He became archbishop nearly two months after the Pope named him the replacement for Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales.
Besides Tagle, the other cardinals appointed by Pope Benedict XVI include:
1. Bishop Michael James Harvey, Prefect of the Papal Household, who will be appointed Archpriest of the Papal Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls;
2. His Beatitude Béchara Boutros Rai, Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites (Lebanon);
3. His Beatitude Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal, Major Archbishop of Trivandrum of the Syro-Malankars (India);
4. Archbishop John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan, Archbishop of Abuja (Nigeria);
5. Archbishop Ruben Salazar Gomez, Archbishop of Bogotá (Colombia)
The Pope’s appointees are all non-European.
The announcement follows the death of several cardinals in recent months and will bring the number of those eligible to vote back up to the maximum of 120. Cardinals must be young enough – under 80 – to take part in a papal election.
Religious watchers had not expected there to be another consistory until next year. In February, 22 new “princes of the Church” were created amid criticism at the number of Europeans and poor representation from elsewhere.
While nearly half of the world’s Catholics are in Latin America, there was only one new cardinal appointed from “the Catholic continent.”
The nomination of 7 Italians in Benedict’s 4th consistory also brought to 30 the elector cardinals from Italy – almost a quarter of the total, far outweighing any other country.
The nominations sparked rumors of a power struggle at the heart of the Vatican, with some observers saying that Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone was behind the promotion of Italians up the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy. – Rappler.com, with reports from Agence France-Presse