MANILA, Philippines—Malacañang considers it an honor for the Filipino people to see Cardinal Luis Tagle as among the reported “papabili” (potential popes) being considered to replace the frail Pope Benedict XVI.
The denverpost.com has identified the 55-year-old Tagle as among the front-runners, describing him as a charismatic cardinal who has worked with the Pope at the International Theological Commission. It, however, said that conclaves have always been “wary” of young candidates.
“Certainly it is an honor for the Philippines for news reports to consider Cardinal Tagle as what we call papabile,” Secretary Edwin Lacierda, presidential spokesperson, said in a briefing. “As to whether they are really going to consider Cardinal Tagle, we leave it to the conclave to decide.”
The conclave of cardinals is expected to be held in March within 15 or 20 days of the resignation. A new pope is expected to be elected before March 31.
Following the Pontiff’s shocking announcement he was resigning effective Feb. 28, denverpost.com ran profiles of the potential popes, including Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz of Brasilia, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York; Cardinal Marc Oellet, head of the Congregation for Bishops; Gianfranco Ravasi, Vatican culture minister; Cardinal Leonardo Sandri; Cardinal Odilo Pedro Scherer of Sao Paolo; Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn; Cardinal Angelo Scola of Milan; Tagle; and Cardinal Peter Turkson, head of the Vatican justice and peace bureau.
Meanwhile, Malacañang has expressed regret over the Pope’s resignation, calling this an “act of supreme faith.”
“Not only the Catholic world, but all peoples and nations of goodwill are filled with great regret as news comes of Pope Benedict XVI announcing he intends to relinquish the Petrine Ministry on February 28 of this year,” Lacierda said in a statement Monday night.
Noting that this was the first time in centuries that the papacy would be vacated by resignation, Lacierda said: “It is a momentous time for the Catholic Church and all those with whom that Church has interacted.”
“At this time, when the Pope has announced the physical challenges he faces makes it difficult to continue bearing the burdens of his office, we join the Catholic world and all whose lives he has touched, in prayer and sympathy,” he said.
Lacierda wished that the Pope “find respite from his physical challenges, and peace and contentment in the seclusion of retirement.”
Lacierda said the Pontiff’s decision was in keeping “with humility and pastoral approach he has placed at the core of his service as Pope.”
“It is also an act of supreme faith in the institution he has headed, and the faith he has proclaimed to the world. We pause in human sympathy with Pope Benedict XVI in his acknowledgement of the great physical burden of his office,” he said.
“With millions of Filipino Catholics the world over, and the great religions of the world who found in Benedict XVI a man of sincere spiritual dialogue and great intellectual engagement, we hope and pray the Catholic Church and the Holy See will emerge from the coming period of the Sede Vacante, the conclave to come, with the election of a new Pope prepared to take up the great burdens and expectations of the Catholic faithful worldwide,” he said.
“We recall, in particular, with fond gratitude, the many prayers and comforting words Pope Benedict XVI has dedicated to Filipinos in times of calamity and challenge, and his words of encouragement and witness in the many Catholic events that have brought Catholics together, such as the recent canonization of San Pedro Calungsod,” he continued.