Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle left for Rome last night to attend the consistory that would make him a cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church on Nov. 24 at St. Peter’s Basilica.
Tagle left on a Cathay Pacific flight at 8 p.m. accompanied his parents, Manuel and Milagros Tagle, his predecessor, Archbishop Emeritus Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales, who will also attend the consistory, and several priests from the archdiocese of Manila.
“Thank you for your assurances of prayer and support as I welcome this new grace of being one of the cardinals of the Church. I ask that you pray, too, for our Holy Father Benedict XVI, the archdiocese of Manila and the Church in the Philippines and in Asia,” Tagle said in a post on his Facebook page.
Peachy Yamsuan, archdiocese of Manila communications chief, said Tagle “was also accompanied by (his private secretary), Fr. Reggie Malicdem, and lay faithful from Manila who want to be a part of this. His relatives from the United States, including his brother, will also be going.”
Yamsuan said former archbishop of Cebu Ricardo Cardinal Vidal was also expected to fly to Rome.
Pope Benedict XVI on Oct. 24 named Tagle, along with five other prelates from outside Europe to the College of Cardinals.
The other new princes of the Church are Archbishop James Michael Harvey, Prefect of the Pontifical Household, who will be appointed Archpriest of the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls; His Beatitude Bechara Boutros Raï, Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites (Lebanon); His Beatitude Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal, Major Archbishop of Trivandrum of the Syro-Malankara (India); Archbishop John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan, Archbishop of Abuja (Nigeria), and Archbishop Ruben Salazar Gomez, Archbishop of Bogota (Colombia).
At 55, Tagle will be the youngest cardinal of the Church. He is the seventh Filipino cardinal after Rufino Santos, Julio Rosales, Jaime L. Sin, Ricardo Vidal, Jose Sanchez and Gaudencio Rosales.
Yamsuan said the public can watch the consistory on Saturday at 5 p.m., Philippine time, over cable channel EWTN. In the Vatican, it will be 11 a.m.
At the elevation ceremony, the new cardinals will be presented their rings and receive their zucchetti (skullcap) and birette (four-cornered silk hat), both in scarlet.
The Pope will then assign the new cardinals their titular churches in the diocese of Rome, in keeping with the ancient tradition that cardinals, as electors of the next Pope, must be members of the Roman diocesan clergy.
After the rites, from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., friends and relatives of the new princes of the Church may pay them “courtesy visits” in designated areas in the Vatican.
On Sunday morning, Pope Benedict XVI will concelebrate a Mass with the new cardinals at St. Peter’s Basilica. Later that day, Tagle will celebrate a Thanksgiving Mass at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls.
On Monday morning, the Pope will hold a general audience for the new cardinals and their guests at the Paul VI Audience Hall.
Yamsuan said Tagle was scheduled to return to the Philippines on Nov. 29.
The College of Cardinals will now have 211 members, 120 of whom will be eligible to vote for a Pope in conclave since they are under the age of 80.
Tagle will be the only voting Filipino cardinal as Rosales and Cebu Archbishop Emeritus Cardinal Ricardo Vidal are 80 and 81 years old, respectively.
American journalist Rocco Palmo, meanwhile, said Tagle had become one of global Catholicism’s most “liked” major figures in social media.
Writing in his blog, Whispers in the Loggia, Palmo said Tagle’s Facebook page had been liked by more than 100,000 followers while American prelates like the cardinals of Philadelphia and even New York “both remained to break 20,000.”
“At long last, a cardinal of the social media church,” said Palmo. With a report from Jerome Aning