Luis Antonio Gokim Tagle is no stranger to the inner workings of the Vatican.
As a young priest, he served under Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, head of the powerful Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, previously known as the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition. Ratzinger would later become Pope Benedict XVI.
When the monthlong synod of bishops was convened in the Vatican on Oct. 7, Tagle was personally chosen by Benedict to join the event on “The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith.”
By then, the 55-year-old Tagle had become the archbishop of Manila. He took over the country’s largest and most influential diocese upon the retirement of Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales.
In a surprise announcement on Tuesday, Benedict elevated Tagle to the rank of cardinal.
Tagle joined Ratzinger’s International Theological Commission in the Vatican, six years after he graduated summa cum laude in his doctor of theology course at the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC, in 1991. He served there from 1997 to 2002.
In the local Catholic hierarchy, contemporaries describe him as a “very brilliant” priest.
Among seminarians at San Jose Major Seminary and Loyola School of Theology at Ateneo de Manila University, where Tagle completed his seminary studies, the new Filipino cardinal was widely touted as someone with an intelligent quotient (IQ) of about 150, comparable to the national hero, Dr. Jose P. Rizal.
He graduated summa cum laude in Theology at Ateneo’s Loyola School of Theology and San Jose Seminary, both in Quezon City, in 1982 while teaching full time.
“He was so incredible. He taught as full-time faculty member at the Ateneo while studying as full time seminarian doing all the chores and apostolate required for any seminarian aiming for the priesthood. We don’t have other jobs but study and yet Tagle persisted to excel, graduating summa cum laude,” recalled one priest who asked not to be named as he has no authority to speak on matters involving Tagle.
Tagle, who was ordained priest for the Diocese of Imus, Cavite, on Feb. 27, 1982, was born in Manila on June 21, 1957, to Manuel Topacio Tagle Sr. and Milagros Gokim. His only brother is Manuel Gokim Tagle Jr.
He finished grade school and high school at St. Andrew’s School, Parañaque City, in 1969 and 1973, respectively. Before pursuing the priesthood, he enrolled at Ateneo de Manila University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy.
Tagle is used to doing multiple jobs and accomplish them with excellence as a priest, bishop and archbishop.
Aside from membership in the Ratzinger commission, Tagle also had been a member of the editorial board, Storia del Concilia Vaticano II, Instituto per le scienze religiose Bologna, Italy; expert, Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for Asia, Vatican City; member, Ordinary Council of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops Vatican City.
Locally, Tagle held positions such as consultant of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), Commission on Doctrine of the Faith, Commission on Seminaries; facilitator of CBCP National’s ongoing formation of priests; instructor of various seminaries including Loyola School of Theology, Maryhill School of Theology, Divine Word Seminary, San Carlos Seminary, Our Lady of Pillar Seminary, among others.
He was also rector of a diocesan seminary in Tagaytay City; spiritual director, parish priest, and retreat master to priests, nuns and bishops; member of the Board of Consultors and Presbyteral Council of the Diocese of Imus; Episcopal Vicar for Religious; member, Diocesan Commission on the Clergy; among many other positions in the Catholic hierarchy.
After he became bishop in 2001, Tagle held positions like Apostolic Visitator of Seminaries in Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands and joined synods of bishops in the Vatican and Asia.