Cardinal Tagle opens Holy Door in Manila City Jail

MANILA, Philippines – “May pag-asa tayo (We have hope)."

The archbishop of Manila, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, stressed this message as he opened a Holy Door of Mercy at the Manila City Jail during Holy Week. 

This Holy Door – which Tagle opened on Holy Wednesday, March 23 – is part of the Jubilee Year of Mercy declared by Pope Francis.  

The Jubilee Year of Mercy is a special period that runs from December 8, 2015 until November 20 this year. 

During this Jubilee Year, the Catholic Church encourages more acts of mercy. 

It also opens more opportunities for the forgiveness of sins. One of these opportunities is by passing through a Holy Door of Mercy.

By passing through a Holy Door, which symbolizes the mercy of God, a Catholic can obtain an indulgence.

An indulgence removes the punishment caused by a person’s sins. Passing through a Holy Door, however, is not enough to gain an indulgence. One also has to go to confession, receive communion, and pray for the Pope.

HOLY DOOR. Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle opens the Holy Door of Mercy at the Manila City Jail on Holy Wednesday, March 23, 2016. Photo by Noli Yamsuan/Archdiocese of Manila

HOLY DOOR. Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle opens the Holy Door of Mercy at the Manila City Jail on Holy Wednesday, March 23, 2016.

Photo by Noli Yamsuan/Archdiocese of Manila

The Holy Door at the Manila City Jail is especially significant, Tagle said, because Doors of Mercy have been opened only in 5 churches in the Archdiocese of Manila.

Opening the Holy Door sends a strong message about reaching out to the world's peripheries, as the Pope puts it.  

The Manila City Jail, after all, is one of the world's most overcrowded detention facilities. For one, it was built for 1,000 inmates but was packing around 5,000 of them as of 2005, according to the Asia-Pacific Human Rights Information Center. There, inmates even consider their meal time as “ranch time” because it's like the way cows are fed in ranches.

Worse, many inmates there had been falsely accused and could not defend themselves because they don't have money for a lawyer. 

It was in this context that Tagle explained the value of the Holy Door in the Manila City Jail.

The cardinal pointed out that many people close their doors on others who commit mistakes. “Parang walang awa, wala nang bagong buhay (It seems merciless, like there’s no chance for a new life)."

Pero si Hesus, nagbubukas ng pinto (But Jesus opens doors),” he said. 

'We can betray, we can also love'

The cardinal reminded the jail residents, too, that everyone has a Judas or Peter within. 

Judas was the apostle who betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver, while Peter was the leader of the apostles who denied Jesus thrice.

VOICE OF GOD. Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle on March 23, 2016, tells residents of the Manila City Jail not to lose hope. Photo by Noli Yamsuan/Archdiocese of Manila

VOICE OF GOD. Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle on March 23, 2016, tells residents of the Manila City Jail not to lose hope.

Photo by Noli Yamsuan/Archdiocese of Manila

The cardinal continued: “Lahat tayo may kakayahang umibig. Lahat tayo may kakayahang magtaksil. Pero hindi lang tayo kahawig ni Hudas. Binyagan tayo e. Kamukha rin natin si Hesus. Kung may kakayahan tayong magtaksil, may kakayahan tayong umibig.

(We all have the capacity to love. We all have the capacity to betray. But we don’t only look like Judas. We have been baptized. We also look like Jesus. If we have the capacity to betray, we also have the capacity to love.)

Huwag po tayong mawawalan ng pag-asa (Let us not lose hope),” said Tagle, also the president of Caritas Internationalis, the world's biggest network of Catholic charities. 

SPECIAL BLESSING. Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle sprinkle holy water on the residents of the Manila City Jail as he opens the Holy Door of Mercy there on March 23, 2016. Photo by Noli Yamsuan/Archdiocese of Manila

SPECIAL BLESSING. Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle sprinkle holy water on the residents of the Manila City Jail as he opens the Holy Door of Mercy there on March 23, 2016.

Photo by Noli Yamsuan/Archdiocese of Manila

Tagle said: “Oo, nagkamali ako, nagtaksil ako, mala-Hudas ako, mala-Pedro ako. Totoo 'yan. Dagukan natin ang ating dibdib sa paghingi ng tawad at kahihiyan. Pero huwag din nating kalilimutan: mala-Hesus din tayo.”

(Yes, I made a mistake, I betrayed others, I am like Judas, I am like Peter. That is true. Let’s strike our breasts in seeking forgiveness and in feeling our shame. But let us not forget: we are also like Jesus.)

In response to the cardinal, the jail residents sang the Prayer of St Francis – a song of peace – that left their shepherd almost in tears. – Rappler.com

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.

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