Philippine Cardinal Luis Tagle of Manila walks with Philippines' apostolic nuncio, Archbishop Giuseppe Pinto, after his arrival at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila March 21. Cardinal Tagle was returning from the Vatican after the inaugura l Mass of Pope Francis. CNS photo/Romeo Ranoco, Reuters

Cardinal Tagle says Pope told him he had 'high hopes' for Philippines

By  Simone Orendain, Catholic News Service
  • March 21, 2013

MANILA, Philippines - Manila Cardinal Luis Tagle told journalists that when he went before newly elected Pope Francis to pledge obedience, the pope told him he had "high hopes" for the Philippines.

At a news conference at Manila's international airport March 21, the cardinal said the pope also asked Filipinos "to deepen our faith, through our devotion to Our Lady and mission to the poor. Now, those three are already a whole program, as it were, for the whole church in the Philippines."

Cardinal Tagle was one of the cardinals in the Sistine Chapel for the election of Pope Francis March 13. He expressed gratitude for the "gift of a new pope" and for having had the opportunity to be in solidarity with him, in communion and prayer, regarding his mission.

"What he's saying is go back to the roots," said Cardinal Tagle. "Go back to Jesus Christ."

The cardinal said he agreed with Pope Francis' assessment that the church is in danger of becoming a "mere nongovernmental organization."

"It has always been a danger in the history of the church, where -- with good intention -- you see the plight of people and you want to serve," Cardinal Tagle said. "But the motivation of the church for being of service is really the faith."

The cardinal said that while some people carry out humanitarian work, some do not necessarily do it out of faith. He noted that past pontiffs have reminded the faithful to go back to "that encounter with the Lord as the font of our charitable works, the font of our service to the poor."

"It is always good to serve the poor," Cardinal Tagle said. "But the quality of the church's service to the poor is of the faith. And it's a spiritual experience and not just (a type of) pure social work."

Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales, retired archbishop of Manila, arrived with Cardinal Tagle. Cardinal Rosales said during his brief moments with the pope, he told him the Philippines was preparing for his first visit. The country is hosting the International Eucharistic Congress in 2016.

"We have an inkling that he might (come)," said Cardinal Rosales. He said Pope Francis replied, "Vamos a ver" ("We shall see.")

The cardinal said if Pope Francis decides to visit, "We will see at close hand that he is very simple and humble. ... You can see it comes from his heart. He's not an actor."

Philippine Vice President Jejomar Binay attended the pope's inaugural Mass and extended an invitation to Pope Francis to attend the International Eucharistic Congress.

In a news release, Binay said the pope told him, "Probably."

More than 130 countries sent delegations to the March 19 inaugural Mass, and Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi said that "invitations (to visit) came from practically every delegation."

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