Cardinal Tagle: ‘No person will be discarded by Jesus’

Paterno Esmaquel II
Cardinal Tagle: ‘No person will be discarded by Jesus’
Former drug addicts also tell their stories during the 'Day of Hope' Mass at the Manila Cathedral, presided over by Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle

MANILA, Philippines – Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle urged Catholics on Sunday, January 8, to remain hopeful about the lost, as he presided over a thanksgiving Mass for former drug addicts who have changed their lives. 

“No person will be discarded by Jesus. Every person is welcome to follow the light and hope,” Tagle said in his homily on Sunday morning. 

Tagle led a Mass on Sunday for the “Day of Hope” where former drug addicts also told their stories. 

The former addicts had undergone rehabilitation at the Fazenda da Esperanca, a drug rehabilitation farm in Masbate, which was forging a partnership with the Archdiocese of Manila. 

Tagle said: “Sinasabi ng Panginoon sa lahat, nagkamali ka, nagkaroon ka ng hindi magandang daan, ang Panginoon, nandito pa rin. Hindi nagsasawa. Kaya kang tanggapin.”

(The Lord is telling everyone: You might have made mistakes, you might have gone astray, but the Lord is still here. He never gets tired. He is ready to accept you.)

“Tama na po ang pagmamalinis – ‘Hmm, diyan ka, dito kami!’ Tama na ‘yung panghuhusga – ‘Kayo, makasalanan, marumi; kami, maayos, malinis.’ Ang liwanag ni Kristo, para sa lahat,” the cardinal added.

(Let’s stop pretending to be clean – “Hmm, stay there, we’re here!” Let’s stop judging others – “You are sinful, dirty; we are upright, clean.” The light of Christ is for all.)

Tagle delivered this homily as President Rodrigo Duterte wages a war on drugs that has already killed more than 6,200 people. 

Duterte is also backing the death penalty as a form of retribution against criminals.

‘Every life has hope’

The Catholic Church, however, opposes the death penalty as well as the killing of drug suspects, with the belief that people can change for the better. (READ: Cardinal Tagle: ‘I will not give up on criminals’)

During Sunday’s Mass, for instance, two former drug addicts from Fazenda da Esperanca also recounted how they changed their lives.

One of them was Richard Elson, who is now a seminarian. 

Elson, who comes from Pasay City, was once addicted to marijuana, as well as alcohol and even gambling. 

Later, he underwent a rehabilitation program at Fazenda da Esperanca and graduated around 4 years ago.  

Now training to become a priest, Elson recalled one of his experiences in the seminary.

“Ako po ‘yung kuya sa seminaryo. Merong isang seminarian na nagtanong sa akin, ‘Kuya Rich, brother, hindi ka ba mahihiya kapag sinabi ko na dati kang adik?’ Napatigil ako,” he said. 

(I am the elder brother in the seminary. There was once a seminarian who asked me, “Kuya Rich, brother, won’t you be ashamed if I say that you’re a former addict?” I was speechless.)

“Pero sinabi ko sa sarili ko, sinabi ko sa kanya, ‘Mas nakakahiya siguro kung hindi ko ihahayag ‘yung awa, pagmamahal, at pag-asa na natanggap ko kay Hesus,'” Elson said. 

(But I told myself, and I told him, “It would be more shameful if I don’t declare the mercy, the love, and the hope that I received from Jesus.”) –

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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