The possibility of having a Filipino as the next pope by Dino Crescini

There is always that possibility because Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, now a prince of the church, will be attending the conclave this month in Rome. But is it highly probable? Well, he has to overcome the strong Italian politics that dominate the Vatican.

But one of the most respected Vatican analysts in Rome — Italian journalist Sandro Magister — made a statement that might make Tagle the next pontiff. Magister writes for the magazine L’Espresso.

He said: “there seems to be no other prominent churchman from the Third World, except for Tagle, who is ‘capable of attracting votes’ in the coming conclave.” He added that, with the Pope’s historic decision to abdicate due to the complications of old age, Tagle’s youth “will no longer be an obstacle to being elected Pope.”

Cardinal Tagle just turned 57 — a ripe age indeed to assume papal responsibility. It must be remembered that John Paul II was only 58 when he was elected Pope in 1978. He was born in 1920.

Cardinal Tagle’s qualifications

“As a theologian and Church historian, Tagle was one of the authors of the monumental history of Vatican Council II published by the progressive ‘School of Bologna,’” Magister wrote.

“As a pastor, he has demonstrated a balance of vision and a doctrinal correctness that Benedict XVI himself has highly appreciated. Especially striking is the style with which the bishop acts, living simply and mingling among the humblest people, with a great passion for mission and for charity,” he added.

Tagle earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Pre-Divinity from Ateneo de Manila University and later, a Bachelor of Arts in Theology degree at Loyola School of Theology. Tagle then gained his Doctorate in Sacred Theology at the Catholic University of America from 1987 to 1991, Summa cum Laude. He wrote his dissertation under the direction of Joseph Komonchak on the notion of Episcopal Collegiality as it was developed at the Second Vatican Council and the influence of Pope Paul VI on this development. In addition to this, Tagle also attended doctrinal courses at the Institute of Pope Paul VI University.

This writer’s personal encounter with Tagle

It was not much of a meeting because he was up there in the altar of the Church of the Gesu while I was among the congregation as a member of Ateneo High School Class ’62 celebrating our 40th Anniversary. I was 58 then while Bishop Tagle of Imus, looked very young at 48. He was the main celebrant during a concelebrated mass that was organized for the jubilarians. That was more than 10 years ago and I doubt if I will ever meet him again unless I visit Rome if the Cardinal becomes the next Pope.