Cardinal Tagle tests positive for COVID-19

Paterno Esmaquel II

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(UPDATED) Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle is under quarantine in the Philippines after contracting COVID-19, the Vatican confirms

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, former archbishop of Manila, tested positive for COVID-19 upon his arrival in the Philippines, the Vatican announced Friday, September 11.

Matteo Bruni, director of the Vatican Press Office, said Tagle tested positive for the disease when he arrived in Manila. Bruni said the COVID-19 swab test was conducted in Manila on Thursday, September 10 (Rome time).

Tagle is asymptomatic and remains in quarantine, the Vatican said in an announcement issued in Italian.

Bruni said Tagle had already undergone a swab test in Rome on Monday, September 7, and the test yielded a negative result.

Tagle was supposed to visit his elderly parents in Imus, Cavite, who are both in their 90s.  “Now he is prevented from doing so because he has to stay in isolation in the next 14 days,” said Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David on Saturday, September 12.

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COVID-19 prevents Tagle from visiting elderly parents in Cavite

COVID-19 prevents Tagle from visiting elderly parents in Cavite

Tagle is now based in the Vatican as prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. This is one of 9 offices that essentially function as the Pope’s Cabinet, making him one of the most powerful men in the Vatican.

Tagle is the first head of a dicastery, the equivalent of a Cabinet office in the Vatican bureaucracy, to have contracted COVID-19, according to Vatican journalist Edward Pentin.

Tagle is touted as a potential successor to Francis, whom Vatican watchers said is grooming the cardinal for the papacy.

The Pope, breaking tradition, in May gave Tagle the rank of cardinal-bishop – one of the 11 highest-ranking cardinals based in the Vatican. He is now the highest-ranking Filipino bishop in almost 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines.

The Pope has not yet appointed his successor as Manila archbishop.

The temporary head of the Archdiocese of Manila, which Tagle vacated, had also tested positive for COVID-19. Bishop Broderick Pabillo, administrator of the Archdiocese of Manila while the Pope has not yet appointed Tagle’s successor, recovered after being asymptomatic. –

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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