ardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila greets well-wishers as he takes possession of his titular Church of St. Felice da Cantalice on the outskirts of Rome June 15. CNS photo/Massimiliano Migliorato, Catholic Press Photo

Manila cardinal takes delayed possession of his titular church in Rome

By  Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service
  • June 17, 2013

ROME - "We've been waiting a long time," Capuchin Father Gianfranco Palmisani told Philippine Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila, who showed up a few minutes late to officially take possession of his "titular" church on the Eastern outskirts of Rome.

But Father Palmisani, the pastor of St. Felice da Cantalice, was not talking about the brief traffic-related delay in beginning Mass June 15, but to the fact that it took almost seven months for the Philippine cardinal to seal his bond with the parish.

Cardinal Tagle received his red hat and honorary assignment to St. Felice in November, but the ceremony of taking possession of his titular church was delayed by the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, the conclave and the election of Pope Francis.

The Manila cardinal, who will be 56 June 21, is the second youngest member of the College of Cardinals and doesn't look his age. He said at a meeting a couple weeks ago Pope Francis, pointing at him, remarked to another cardinal, "Look at this boy."

He told the more than 1,000 people, including hundreds of members of Rome's Philippine community, packed into the church, "I guarantee I've made my first Communion and was validly ordained."

Although Cardinal Tagle said he never studied in Italy, he read his homily and celebrated the Mass in Italian, thanking the crowd for being "very kind" when he stumbled over a few long words.

In his homily, the cardinal focused on "the mystery of sin and the mystery of God."

"Without the memory of the love of God," he said, "the heart and mind begin remembering other things, especially those things that go against the love of God."

Referring to the "sinful woman" in the Gospel of Luke who washes Jesus' feet with her tears and dries them with her hair, Cardinal Tagle said the townspeople who were scandalized by her approaching Jesus could only remember her sin.

However, he said, "she had great self-awareness. She knew in her heart she was a sinner and deep in her heart she also knew she needed a great love to erase that sin. She had the courage to come to Jesus."

"We all must learn from this woman not to be afraid to go to Jesus," he said. "And, forgiven by the Lord, each of us has a mission to share his love, especially with the abandoned, those who are not considered persons by society."

Speaking at a book presentation in Rome June 14, Cardinal Tagle was asked why he was so obviously crying when he received his red hat from Pope Benedict in November and entered the College of Cardinals.

"I don't know if it's a weakness or a strength," he said, but "I don't hide my emotions. The consistory was a religious experience -- that's what made me cry."

"They were the tears of a man who knows himself and his limits, but has received a call to which he cannot say no," the cardinal said.

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