By Sarah Mac Donald - 09 December, 2019
Pope Francis on Sunday appointed Filipino prelate Cardinal Luis Tagle as the new Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, reflecting the Pontiff’s desire for a missionary church and a greater outreach to Asia.
The Cardinal Archbishop of Manila succeeds Cardinal Fernando Filoni as Prefect, who has been appointed as Grand Master of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre in place of Cardinal Edwin Frederick O’Brien, who resigned in April 2019 when he turned 80.
Cardinal Filoni was apostolic nuncio to Iraq from 2001 to 2006 and lived in Baghdad during the 2003 war.
He was also Papal Nuncio to the Philippines for a year before he was called to the Vatican Secretariat of State as Substitute, a post he held until 2011.
His experience in the Middle East will prove useful for his new role because the Order of the Holy Sepulchre cooperates particularly with the Middle Eastern Christian communities and supports many projects there.
Cardinal Tagle is only the second Asian to hold that the post of Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples. Cardinal Ivan Dias of India served as Prefect from 2006 to 2011.
Cardinal Luis Antonio Gokim Tagle was born on 21 June 1957 in Manila to a Catholic family.
He was ordained priest in 1982 and studied in the US where he obtained his doctorate in theology with a thesis on the evolution of the notion of episcopal collegiality since the Second Vatican Council.
He spent seven years in Rome to deepen his studies and in 1997 joined the International Theological Commission.
After having been parish priest of the cathedral of Imus, at the age of 44 he was nominated bishop of that diocese by Saint John Paul II in October 2001.
He dedicated himself to youth ministry and inaugurated the first meeting of young Asians in Imus.
On 13 October 2011, Benedict XVI appointed him Metropolitan Archbishop of Manila and thirteen months later, in November 2012, during the last consistory of the pontificate of Pope Ratzinger, he received the cardinal’s hat.
In addition to leading the diocese of the Philippine metropolis, Tagle is also president of Caritas Internationalis and the Catholic Biblical Federation.
The appointment of Cardinal Tagle follows that of the Spanish Jesuit Juan Antonio Guerrero Alves as Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy.
The beginning of 2020 will see two new heads of significant Vatican departments installed in their roles.
The Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples oversees the work of the Church in most of the dioceses in Africa, Asia and Oceania, which is around one-third of the world’s 4,000 dioceses.
It was originally called the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith (Propaganda Fide) when it was first established by Pope Gregory XV in 1622, but Paul VI changed its name to the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples in 1967.
Its task is “the transmission and dissemination of the faith throughout the whole world” with specific responsibility for coordinating and guiding the church’s diverse missionary efforts and initiatives, as well as the promotion and formation of the local clergy and hierarchies, encouraging new missionary institutes and providing material assistance for the church’s missionary activity.
It plays a significant role in the selection of bishops in the dioceses under its remit and proposing their names to the pope.
Meanwhile, Pope Francis on Sunday visited Rome’s Piazza di Spagna on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception and addressed his own prayer to Our Lady entrusting to her all those in Rome and throughout the world who are burdened “by discouragement because of sin; those who think there is no longer hope for them, that their sins are too many and too great”.