Papal buzz for Manila archbishop?

By  Simone Orendain, Catholic News Service
  • November 2, 2011

IMUS, Philippines - On a recent Sunday morning, Nemie Anciado squinted against the searing sun shining on the doorway of the crowded Our Lady of the Pillar Cathedral.

Anciado has been a longtime custodian at the cathedral, where Archbishop Luis Tagle served as bishop from 2001 until his recent appointment as head of the Manila archdiocese.

Anciado said he has mixed feelings about Tagle’s new assignment. He said he’s sad to lose him and happy that “he will be able to grow in his new position.”

“There’s so much we like about the (archbishop),” said Anciado. “He really takes care of people ... he’s so simple and generous and there’s no class structure when he deals with people; everyone is equal in his eyes. He lives such a beautiful life.”

He said Tagle, a known advocate for the poor, was a tremendous help to him personally. On his meagre salary, Anciado put six daughters through college, and he said when things really got tight, the archbishop gave him money.

“He never expected anything in return,” Anciado explained. “All he asked was that whoever he helped should draw closer to God.”

Drawing closer to God was an essential lesson Fr. Allan Valero learned from Tagle, who was his seminary professor, and whom he called a brother, father and friend.

Valero said Tagle is a very joyful person with a sense of humour, and the 54-year-old is the kind of person “everyone always wants to be around.”

“He enjoys what he does; whenever he has bloopers or makes mistakes, he can still laugh at himself,” said Valero. “He can be serious, of course, when need be, but he can always look at the lighter side of things.”

Tagle does not deviate on issues such as the reproductive health legislation being debated in the Philippine Congress. Many Catholics are looking to him to reunite the Philippine Church, which has splintered over the reproductive health issue.

Admirers have widely lauded the theological gifts of the bishop known as Chito, so much so that there’s “papal buzz” over his abilities.

“The depth of his understanding of theology was already at a far more superior level during our college years,” said Ricardo Jalbuena, who attended a prominent Jesuit university with Tagle. “It was always enlightening to have Chito around.”

The newly elected archbishop was hard to reach in the days following his Oct. 13 appointment, but he was not to be missed on his weekly Gospel program on the YouTube channel of Ateneo de Manila University’s Jesuit Communications Foundation.

The new archbishop said the appointment was a real test of his ability to love.

“Can I say yes and give my soul, my mind, my strength to God who has loved me first?” he asked.

“I hear this calling and I tremble before it but I know, I know, it is the real calling: to love.”

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