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Dumaguete City, PhilippinesMonday, November 26, 2012
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Pinoy cardinal potential candidate
for papacy, Italian journalist says

MANILA – The elevation of Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle to the College of Cardinals by Pope Benedict XVI will make the Filipino prelate a “potential future Pope,” Italian journalist Andrea Tornielli in her write-up in the Vatican Insider, said.

Tagle was one of the six new cardinals named by Benedict XVI to the elite club of churchmen who will elect the next pope.

“The Filipino archbishop has become a potential candidate for the papacy but 52 percent of electing cardinals are still European,” Tornielli said. Cardinal Tagle, at 55, is “an emerging figure in the Asian Episcopate and a potential future Pope...”

The Pontiff formally elevated Tagle, together with five other new cardinals, at an elaborate ceremony held in the Vatican Saturday.

The other new cardinals are Archbishop James Michael Harvey of the United States; Abuja, Nigeria Archbishop John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan; Bogota, Colombia Archbishop Ruben Salazar Gomez; Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites in Lebanon, His Beatitude Bechara Boutros Rai; and the major Archbishop of the Trivandrum of the Siro-Malankaresi in India, His Beatitude Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal.

The cardinals are the ones who elect a Pope.

A Filipino cardinal or any other cardinal from Asia becoming a Pope is farfetched at the moment as “Europe and Italy still retain considerable influence,” Tornielli said.

“There are 62 European cardinal electors (52 percent of the entire electoral body), 28 of these Italians, or 23 percent of the voting cardinals. North America has 14 electors, while Latin America has 21, Africa and Asia 11, and Oceania has one,” she pointed out.

Tornielli added: “Despite the College of Cardinals’ drive for internationalization, which Pius XII had given strong impetus to, cardinal percentages still reflect Old Europe’s heavy influence and are not in tune with the development and expansion of Catholicism in the last half century. Indeed, according to the latest statistics published, which compare figures from 2010 to those of the previous year, the number of Catholics in Africa and Asia are growing, whereas in Europe they are dropping. Even in terms of priest numbers, Europe’s figure is negative (-905) whereas an increase can be seen in Africa (+761) and Asia (+1,695). But Consistories do not seem to reflect this trend. During the last two pontificates, the number of Africans being created cardinals was low while the Curia was awash with Europeans."

“At the moment, there are no particular concerns regarding Benedict XVI’s health. He will be celebrating his 86th birthday next April. But everyone is aware of his increased frailty so it is only normal for people to ask themselves at each Consistory - as was the case when Wojtyla was still Pope - which cardinals could be the likeliest and most suitable candidates for the papacy.

"While the favorite during the last Consistory was the Archbishop of New York, Timothy Dolan, it now appears to be Filipino Cardinal Tagle. He is considered to be too young for the papacy, should a conclave be held in the next two to three years but his influence is nevertheless destined to grow,” Tornielli pointed out.

Cardinal Tagle, who is still in Rome, is expected to say his first Mass as Prince of the Church at the Basilica of Saint Paul Sunday, which is the Feast of Christ the King.

The Philippine delegation, led by Vice President Jejomar Binay, together with Manila Archbishop Emeritus Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, Tagle’s parents Manuel and Milagros, other relatives, and priests from the Archdiocese of Manila will attend the mass officiated by the cardinal.

Known for his charisma and boyish look, even before becoming Archbishop of Manila, Tagle has been hosting the popular television show “Word Exposed” that deals on Catholic life and teachings, being an associate professor of Systematic Theology at the Loyola School of Theology of the Ateneo de Manila University.

His penchant for helping the poor and the downtrodden makes him more popular among the masses.

Tagle has been championing against abortion, contraception, particularly the controversial Reproductive Health bill now pending before Congress.*PNA

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