Wednesday, 10 August 2022

Cardinal Tagle in UK: Was Potential Pope's Liberal Message a Sign for Future?

I've said for some time that the next Pope will be Francis 2.0. Tagle might actually make us pine for the 'good old days' under Francis! May God preserve His Church!

From the Catholic Herald

Filipino Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle – fast-emerging as a frontrunner to succeed Pope Francis, as rumours grow about a looming papal resignation – has been in the United Kingdom. A guest at the Anglican Lambeth Conference, the papabile offered a progressive message, a potential sign of what could be in store should the Cardinal succeed Pope Francis. Citing the first Letter of Peter – the major text for the week – Cardinal Tagle described the Church found in it to be longing to find its spiritual house. 

In a message strong on acceptance, Cardinal Tagle asked whether Christians in the diaspora “still feel like journeyers, or temporary settlers, or guests?” He added: “We can be so established in our ways and culture that we start behaving like owners of lands, peoples, and ideas. The letter reminds us of the displaced peoples of today – exiles, travellers like the forced migrants, the refugees, the victims of human slavery” 

Cardinal Tagle asked: “Will they find hospitality and compassion?” The Filipino cleric went on to say the idea of building the dream home came back to the question of diversity. He explained: “We know that building relationships faces the contemporary challenge of populism. Social media has influenced the dangerous language of ‘populism’ and ‘populist’. [Those words] have lost whatever value they might have had. Efforts have been made to classify entire groups as populist, undermining efforts of developing relationships and forming a human family.” 

Developing cultural intelligence and living for Jesus required humility, the Cardinal suggested, claiming that “we must understand how people express their humanity in their own cultures.” People, he argued, needed “the humility to admit that, while I lack knowledge of my culture, I am quick to judge what even I am not familiar with.” The message was clearly one of progressivism, the Cardinal clearly planting himself on the liberal side of the Catholic divide. 

Dubbed the “Asian Francis”, Cardinal Tagle is seen as representing the Church’s progressive wing, having criticised previously “harsh words” against LGBT Catholics. Such language and the message in the UK can perhaps be set apart from Hungary’s Cardinal Erdő, another front-runner for the Papacy. Back in 2015 – as Pope Francis was calling on Catholics to take in refugees – the Cardinal Erdő said taking in refugees would amount to human trafficking. Yet, the Hungarian cleric later expressed concern about tendencies to turn religions against one another, and in an interview with Valasz On Line in 2019, asked rhetorically: “Can a country, a continent, be called a Christian?”. He added: “I wouldn’t emphasise whiteness as a Catholic, though”.

Cardinal Tagle seems very much of the school of Pope Francis. As Niall Gooch wrote for UnHerd: “As an Argentinian Jesuit, the type of villain that looms large in his [Pope Francis’] mental furniture is the aggressive and chauvinistic nationalist leader, who cements his own power with cynical attacks on foreigners and the enemy within.” In the Pope’s eyes, “a Christian country and culture is not one preoccupied with its own integrity and its own survival, but one which makes an unshakeable political imperative from the divine commands to welcome the stranger and to recognise all men as brothers.” 

In his message last week then was Cardinal Tagle offering some indication for how he might guide the Catholic Church? At the very least, the speech in Kent offered a window into his thinking. A future Pope from Asia would also speak volumes about a Church growing more in the Global South, although also resurging in Cardinal Erdő’s backyard of central and eastern Europe. In that sense, both clerics come from countries where Catholicism remains strong. Yet, both Hungary and the Philippines are conservative countries, although this has not yet seemed to compromise Cardinal Tagle’s progressivism. Would Catholic traditionalists, however, really be able to accept his liberal message, and a cleric very much in the image of Pope Francis?

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