Pope Francis to Tagle: High hopes for PH

Paterno Esmaquel II
Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle meets Pope Francis for the first time since the latter's election as pope

'HIGH HOPES.' The first Latin American pope says he has high hopes for the Philippines. Photo from AFP

MANILA, Philippines – The man tagged as the “great Asian hope” meets the first Latin American pope.

Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle assured the new elected Pope Francis on Thursday, March 14, of the “closeness and collaboration” of Filipinos.

A papal contender in the conclave that elected Francis, Tagle heads Asia’s most influential archdiocese. Vatican watcher John Allen called Tagle the “great Asian hope,” one of the most viable Asian candidates for pope.

“When I approached Pope Francis to assure him of the closeness and collaboration of the Filipinos, he said, ‘I have high hopes for the Philippines. May your faith prosper, as well as your devotion to Our Lady and mission to the poor,'” Tagle said in a statement Thursday.

“What a compelling message from this humble man of God! All praise and glory to God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,” Tagle said.

PAPAL CONTENDER. Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle takes an oath of secrecy during the conclave. Photo from news.va's Facebook page

Pope Francis is seen to boost the Church’s presence in developing countries, which have already seen a steady rise in the number of Catholics. Europe – the source of all Catholic popes in modern history – on the other hand, is the only continent that posted a decline in Catholic population in 2012.

“Let us join the whole Church and the world in thanking God for His special gift in the extraordinary person of Pope Francis,” Tagle said.

In an interview on Rappler’s #TalkThursday, Loyola House of Studies rector Fr Joe Quilongquilong, a Jesuit priest, said Pope Francis “represents the developing world.”

“It’s a big shift,” he said.

Since he appeared at the Vatican balcony Pope Francis has stunned the world with marks of humility, beginning with his choice of name. (Watch more in the video below.)

In his first speech, Pope Francis even asked the public a “favor.” 

He said: “Before the Bishop blesses the people, I ask that you would pray to the Lord to bless me – the prayer of the people for their Bishop. Let us say this prayer – your prayer for me – in silence.”

A 76-year-old son of a humble rail worker, Pope Francis is seen as true to his working-class roots, riding the bus and even making his own meals. – 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.