Tagle’s words that struck the world

Paterno Esmaquel II
Driving priests to tears and impressing journalists, Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle blasts 'idols' like the 'god of profit' and hits special treatment for priests

WORLD STAGE. Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle holds his audience 'spellbound' – the way Vatican Radio describes it – at the International Eucharistic Congress in 2012 in Dublin. Photo from the IEC website

MANILA, Philippines – Why do Vatican watchers consider Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle a papal contender?

His speeches, for one, impress them. Speaking at Vatican conferences, Tagle has driven priests to tears and captivated journalists who, even before Benedict XVI quit the papacy, considered him a papabile.

Rappler compiled transcripts from the Vatican, as well as other official sources, to paint a picture of Tagle on the global stage.

In the following speeches, Tagle – a former member of the Vatican’s International Theological Commission – blasts “idols” like the “god of profit,” the “god of ‘progress,’” and the “god of national security.” He also hits special treatment for priests, and says the Church needs more humility.

From key Catholic gatherings around the world, we bring you 7 of Tagle’s best quotes.

Modern-day idols: profit, progress, national security

WORKERS' CRUSADER. Described as a 'bishop of the poor,' Cardinal Tagle fights for the rights of laborers. File photo from AFP

“It is sad that those who worship idols sacrifice other people while preserving themselves and their interests. How many factory workers are being denied the right wages for the god of profit? How many women are being sacrificed to the god of domination? How many children are being sacrificed to the god of lust? How many trees, rivers, hills are being sacrificed to the god of ‘progress’? How many poor people are being sacrificed to the god of greed? How many defenseless people are being sacrificed to the god of national security?”

(49th International Eucharistic Congress; June 15-22, 2008 in Quebec, Canada)

Best food, wine for priests? ‘I am disturbed’

FIGHTING CLERICALISM. Cardinal Tagle says bishops and priests shouldn't receive special treatment. File photo from CBCP

“Ecclesiastical customs and persons, when naively and narrowly deified and glorified, might become hindrances to true worship and compassion. I am disturbed when some people who do not even know me personally conclude that my being a bishop automatically makes me closer to God than they could ever be. My words are God’s words, my desires are God’s, my anger is God’s, and my actions are God’s. If I am not cautious, I might just believe it and start demanding the offerings of the best food and wine, money, car, house, adulation, and submission. After all, I am ‘God’! I might take so much delight in my stature and its benefits that I might end up being callous to the needs of the poor and the earth.”

(49th International Eucharistic Congress; June 15-22, 2008 in Quebec, Canada)

No to ‘triumphalistic, know-it-all’ Church

TOO MUCH. For the Bacolod diocese's critics, this is an example of a church that oversteps its boundaries and meddles in partisan politics. Photo by Charlie Saceda

“You may be saying the right things but people will not listen if the manner by which you communicate reminds them of a triumphalistic, know-it-all institution.”

(Vatican Radio interview; Oct 24, 2012 in Rome)

Suppression of the poor in Asia: a ‘scandal’

HUMAN TRAFFICKING. Filipino children, some of whom fall prey to pedophiles worldwide, campaign against the sex trade. File photo from AFP

“It is a scandal that suppression of stories is a daily occurrence in many parts of Asia. The poor, the girl-child, women, refugees, migrants, the minorities, the indigenous peoples, the victims of different types of domestic, political, ethnic violence and the environment are but a few of those whose stories are suppressed. Many are afraid of the stories they will tell. Or are they afraid to hear the truth and its demands?

“The Church tells the story of Jesus whose words often fell on deaf ears and who was executed so that he could be prevented from telling His story. So in Asia the Church pays tribute to Him by allowing itself to be the storyteller of the voiceless so that Jesus’ voice may be heard in their suppressed stories.”

(Asian Mission Congress; Oct 19, 2006 in Chiang Mai, Thailand)

On sex abuse: Hold erring priests accountable

CLOUDS LOOMING. Sex abuse cases involving priests threaten the Catholic Church's credibility. File photo

“The best way to care for the offender is to make him face up to the misconduct.”

(50th International Eucharistic Congress; June 10-17, 2012 in Dublin, Ireland)

‘Tragic’ effects of lack of listening

AT STAKE. For Cardinal Tagle, Church reform should lead to improving the plight of the poor. File photo from AFP

“Events in our world show the tragic effects of the lack of listening: conflicts in families, gaps between generations and nations, and violence. People are trapped in a milieu of monologues, inattentiveness, noise, intolerance, and self-absorption. The Church can provide a milieu of dialogue, respect, mutuality and self-transcendence.

“God speaks and the Church, as servant, lends its voice to the Word. But God does not only speak. God also listens especially to the just, widows, orphans, persecuted, and the poor who have no voice. The Church must learn to listen the way God listens and must lend its voice to the voiceless.”

(XII Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops; Oct 5-26, 2008 in Vatican City)

Church ‘cannot pretend to give easy solutions’

LISTENING CHURCH. Cardinal Tagle says the Catholic Church should learn compassion. File photo from AFP

“The Church must discover the power of silence. Confronted with the sorrows, doubts and uncertainties of people she cannot pretend to give easy solutions. In Jesus, silence becomes the way of attentive listening, compassion and prayer. It is the way to truth.”

(XIII Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops; Oct 7-28, 2012 in Vatican City)

CHARISMATIC BISHOP. Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle is seen as deeply connected to the grassroots. Photo from Tagle's Facebook page

Three months after he became a Prince of the Catholic Church, Tagle is now in Rome to elect the next pope. He refuses to answer questions on potentially becoming Benedict XVI’s successor. (Read: ‘Hope’ for Church: Third World pope.)

How does Tagle view the papal elections? His words provide a consistent clue. The Church, for this papabile, is not about power but the plight of the world, especially the poor. – Rappler.com


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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 pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.