By virtue of “special papal permission”, former Manila archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle has risen to the rank of cardinal-bishop, making him the first Filipino in history to attain the position as well as the highest-ranked Filipino bishop throughout the country’s half millennium of Christianity.
The Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples (CEP) prefect now joins the Vatican’s elite circle of 11 other cardinal-bishops that serve as close advisers to the Argentinian pontiff.
With Pope Francis endeavoring the issuance of an apostolic constitution known as “Praedicate Evangelium” for reforms within the papal court, Tagle is also expected to spearhead the resulting merger of the CEP and the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization.
This “super dicastery” will place Tagle as one of the most integral Vatican functionaries, as the Pope’s reforms would place the Holy See’s focus on evangelization and pastoral ministry rather than the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s (CDF) emphasis on doctrine.
As such, “super dicastery” would be more influential than the CDF, which was once headed by Pope Benedict XVI during his time as a cardinal-bishop.
Fr. Gregory Gaston of the Pontificio Collegio Filippino Philippine clergy in Rome, where Tagle stays, spoke about how there was no reactionary statement from the former Manila archbishop regarding his promotion.
Gaston also explained that of the three types of cardinals in the Catholic Church, Tagle’s promotion now places him as possessing all three distinctions.
A cardinal-priest heads dioceses, and Tagle was the Manila prelate. Cardinal-deacons are granted responsibilities in the Vatican itself and the former Archbishop is indeed the head of a Vatican office. Now, he has also been granted the special consultative rank of cardinal-bishop.
Traditionally, cardinal-bishops must be assigned to one of seven particular churches near Rome, also known as suburbicarian sees.
Tagle however, has not been assigned a suburbicarian see but was promoted upon special papal permission, as the pontiff’s power within the church is universal and freely exercised at will, according to Canon 331 of the Code of Canon Law.
(Photo by: Juan Carlo de Vela)