Since Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales became the archbishop of Manila, I have ceased being excited about this business of having another Filipino cardinal. Now, Antonio “Chito” Tagle is a cardinal. So what? Will he be just another prelate who will dash my hopes of a Catholic Church being truly “a leaven of society” that will raise the bar on morality, accountability and fight for justice especially for the poor; or will he be a mere witness to a Church that will be just like salt that will eventually “lose its taste?”
When I first learned that Pope Benedict XVI had elevated him to the rank of a Cardinal, I said to myself, “there you go again. Another Church bureaucrat who will be spoiled by the faithful.”
As a student for the priesthood, Cardinal Tagle was known to many for his sterling intellectual capacities. As a priest and a bishop, he proved himself an effective communicator on both radio and TV. But how will he be as a cardinal? Will he bring the good news to the poor, proclaim liberty to captives, bring new sight to the blind and set the downtrodden free (Luke 4:18-19)? Or will he be just an adornment at the gatherings of the elite and spoiled millionaire ladies of Forbes Park, Urdaneta Village, Alabang Village at Bel-Air Village?
As a cardinal, Tagle faces enormous challenges that will truly test not only his intellect but also his moral principles and social conscience as a prince of the Church.
Here are a few of them:
1. lack of credibility of many priests due to their scandalous attachment to money and material things like the latest car models;
2. lack of spiritual depths among priests as amply displayed Sunday after Sunday in their poor and anemic sermons that often wallow in the shallow grasp and practical application of biblical truths;
3. lack of priests’ capacity to engage people in honest dialogues about issues that truly matter in the life of ordinary Filipinos, especially the poor;
4. absence of accountability in the Church, regarding finances, mansions owned by some priests and their lavish lifestyles that are an affront to our Lord who lived poor and died poor; and
5. the curse of pedophilia among priests, which is often denied by Church authorities, but the people know “it is out there.”
—CARLOS D. ISLES, 14 Platinum Street Filinivest 2, Batasan Hill, QC, firstname.lastname@example.org