Cardinal Tagle in the eyes of Holy Angel-A A +A
Monday, August 19, 2013
SOMETIME in the future, when the ongoing strike at Holy Angel University is over, I shall write about the high drama that accompanied the events last week, when His Eminence, Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, Archbishop of Manila, came to receive an honorary doctorate.
It was a moment of absolute grace and blessing for the HAU academic community, regardless of stand on the ongoing conflict. We were all blown away by the force of the Cardinal’s personal charisma, as well as by his humility and humor which you should not take for granted because they hide a fearless and brutally frank messenger of God.
For now let me talk about why the University chose the Cardinal as the sixth recipient of its annual honorary doctorate, after Manuel V. Pangilinan (2009), Washington SyCip (2010), Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala (2011) and Christopher and Victoria Bernido (2012).
The decision came middle of last year, when Cardinal Tagle was still Archbishop Tagle, which was why the board resolution read during the ceremonies still referred to him as Archbishop Tagle.
By the time the letter was sent to his office at the Arzobispado de Manila in Intramuros, he had flown to Rome where, a few days later, he was told by Pope Benedict XVI that he would become a cardinal. We were able to snag an appointment in his tight calendar in January 2013, shortly after he arrived from the consistory at the Vatican (where he was seen on worldwide TV wiping tears after Pope Benedict placed the cardinal’s biretta on his head).
After our meeting with him in his office, Pope Benedict XVI resigned and once again, Cardinal Tagle flew to Rome, this time as a papabile, or a frontrunner in the election of a new pope.
By then I was tingling with excitement at the prospect of our honorary doctor becoming a pope. When Jorge Cardinal Bergoglio emerged from the balcony of St. Peter’s as Pope Francis, I said at least we could now set the date of the conferment. The school year had ended so the date was set at August 16, 2013.
During the ceremonies last week, members of the HAU Board of Trustees honored Cardinal Tagle with speeches that drew applause and laughter from the audience.
“It is an auspicious coincidence,” said Sister Josefina Nepomuceno, “that on its 80th founding anniversary, the University has chosen to honor a Catholic leader whose spirituality, leadership style and personal charisma have reinvigorate the Church in the Philippines, captured the imagination of the entire Roman Catholic Church, and may yet put him in the shoes of the Fisherman.”
“One of his predecessors is our very own Rufino Cardinal Santos of Guagua, Pampanga,” continued Sister Josefina. “Kapampangans and Filipinos are known to be very devout Catholics, but ours is a Church that is constantly struggling to keep its members from leaving the fold, struggling to keep up with the aggressive and creative campaigns of other denominations and secular institutions, and struggling to raise mere religiosity to the level of genuine spirituality.”
Sec. Jose ‘Ping’ de Jesus delivered the University’s Laudation which went:
“When the student is ready, the Teacher will come.’
“What the Vatican and the Catholic Church needed at this point in history is precisely what the Vatican got, in the person of Pope Francis: a humble pope, a fearless pope, a pope who knows how to communicate to his people. By the same token, the Archdiocese of Manila and the Philippine Church as a whole got exactly the kind of leader and pastor they needed, in the person of our honoree today: also a humble cardinal, a fearless cardinal, a cardinal who knows how to use broadcast media and social media, and who uses the language that Manileños and Filipinos would understand.
“We can say that the Pope and the Cardinal are two of a kind: both educated by the Jesuits, both leaders of the Church in the Third World, both charismatic, and both known for their humility and simple ways. The Pope rides a taxi, the Cardinal rides a pedicab. His Holiness washes the feet of prisoners, His Eminence invites beggars to his refectory. Indeed, they are both shepherds who smell like their sheep.
“If indeed Pope Francis has started a revolution in the Church, then his strongest ally would be Cardinal Tagle. The power of their combined examples should compel all Catholics, particularly Filipino Catholics, both clergy and laity, to adopt a major paradigm shift in their personal lives and lifestyles.
“His Eminence speaks softly but carries a big stick—against poverty, injustice, atheism, materialism, and the Reproductive Health Bill. He urges his fellow clergy to assume an attitude of humility, respectfulness and silence, but he will not hesitate to raise his voice against the systems and conditions that cause suffering and violate the dignity and sanctity of human life.
“The media-savvy communicator does not consider an early-morning TV show, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter beneath his exalted position. To him, these are the tools that bring the gospel of Christ to the youth—the members of the Church who will ensure its survival and shape its future. His Eminence certainly knows and shows the way to match the magnetism of Protestant evangelicals and resist the temptations of an increasingly secular culture.
“Like Pope Francis, Cardinal Tagle has the meekness of Assisi but the sophistication of Loyola as well. Their mission is to disturb the rich and the powerful, to create a mess in the dioceses, to set the world on fire, to bring not peace on earth, but the sword.
“This is the time of Pope Francis.
“This is the time of Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle as well.”
Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on August 20, 2013.