Pope Francis has appointed Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila to a senior post, in a move some observers see as an endorsement of a future Tagle papacy.
Cardinal Tagle will lead the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, usually known by its former name of Propaganda Fide, which oversees the Church’s missionary work.
It is one of the largest departments in the Curia, and is expected to grow in importance under the Vatican’s forthcoming constitutional reforms.
What Catholic media are saying
In the National Catholic Register, Fr Raymond de Souza said that Pope Francis must have “felt a great urgency” to appoint Cardinal Tagle. The previous head of Propaganda Fide, Cardinal Fernando Filoni, will be 75, the standard retirement age, in 18 months. Instead of waiting, the Pope has given Cardinal Filoni “the greatest Curial demotion in living memory”, which suggests that he really wants Cardinal Tagle in place.
That’s no surprise, said John Allen at Crux, given that the cardinal “is widely known as the ‘Francis of Asia’”, known best for “his advocacy for immigrants and the poor”. Cardinal Tagle’s intellectual background, meanwhile, “reflects the progressive, reform-oriented wing of the Second Vatican Council. He served as a member of the editorial board of the multi-volume History of Vatican II edited by Giuseppe Alberigo and Alberto Melone, key figures in the ‘Bologna School’ embodying the liberal reading of the Council.”
Cardinal Tagle’s status has been growing for some time, said Edward Pentin in the National Catholic Register. “Yet despite his popularity among some of the hierarchy, Cardinal Tagle is also seen by some as questionable in terms of theology.”
Pentin claimed it had been rumoured for some time “that Francis wants the Filipino cardinal to replace him, allegedly even going as far as sending Cardinal Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga to Manila to give Cardinal Tagle a few practical lessons on how to be pope.” It had appeared that Cardinal Tagle was not ready for the role – but this appointment suggests his star is rising again.
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