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Cardinal Tagle: Pope Francis thought I had just come from kindergarten


Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, the Archbishop of Manila, makes a sign of the cross on the foreheads of devotees during a mass in observance of Ash Wednesday which ushers the 45-day Lenten Season Wednesday February 13, 2013 in Manila. AP FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—Attending a meeting in Rome two weeks ago, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle got a dose of Pope Francis’ sense of humor.

Tagle, one of the youngest cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church, said the Holy Father teased him, saying that he thought the 56-year-old de facto primate of the Church in the Philippines had just come from kindergarten, apparently referring to his youthful, boyish looks.

The cardinal also quoted Francis as saying that despite the “magnitude of responsibility” he felt for the worldwide church of 1.1 billion souls, he is consoled by an inner “peace that does not come from me.”

“As I said, I was in Rome around two weeks ago for a meeting and after the meeting, we had an audience with the Holy Father,” Tagle said in his homily during an early evening Mass at the San Agustin Church in Intramuros, Manila, on Friday.

“When he approached me, I said, ‘Your Holiness, I’m from Manila. I want to remind you I’m from the Philippines.’ He said, ‘Oh really, I thought you are from a kindergarten school … scuola materna,” he added.

Scoula materna is Italian for nursery school. Scuola dell’infanzia is the Italian equivalent of kindergarten.

“I said, ‘Oh my… Pope Benedict said I just received first Holy Communion. That’s [for] 7-year-olds. Now, I’m in kindergarten … retreating,” Tagle said in jest.

He might have been referring to the joke Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger reportedly made when he introduced Tagle to the late Pope John Paul II after Tagle joined the Vatican’s International Theological Commission in the mid-1990s.

Ratzinger supposedly assured the Polish pope that the youthful-looking Filipino had already received his first Holy Communion.

“The following day, I had a personal audience with (Pope Francis) and I returned the joke. I told him, ‘Look, a few months ago, you were Cardinal Bergoglio. Now, look at you… Imagine, I have to call you Pope Francesco,” Tagle said.

“You know what he said? ‘Ah … the mystery… I am a poor sinner’… Almost the words of (Saint) Peter,” he said.

Tagle said he then asked Francis, the first non-European to head the Church in nearly 1,300 years, how he was doing.

The Holy Father was said to have replied: “This is something that I cannot explain. I look at the magnitude of the responsibility and I see it every day but what I marvel at is that, in my heart, there is peace … peace that does not come from me.”

“I should be rattled by now. I should be spending the nights sleepless but there is peace,” Tagle quoted the Pope as saying.

“So, again he says the mercy and compassion of God. I was so tempted to say ‘I have heard (Saint) Peter. I have heard (Saint) Paul,’” Tagle added.

Tagle and 11 other archbishops and bishops—including Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines president and Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma—concelebrated the Friday evening Mass to commemorate the Pope’s Day.

Papal Nuncio Archbishop Giuseppe Pinto was the main celebrant. Members of the diplomatic corps also attended.

Tagle, who was made a cardinal in November 2012, is apparently still adjusting to his role as a prince of the Church.

“Leaving the hall where we had the meeting, one of the Swiss Guards noticed me and called ‘Eminenza! Eminenza! (Eminence! Eminence!)’ I kept on walking and he ran after me and said ‘Hey, Eminenza’ and I just realized that, yes I am eminenza and it shocked me again,” Tagle said.

It turned out that the Swiss Guard was the one who had escorted Tagle’s parents, brother and other relatives during the consistory when he was made a cardinal.

“In fact, one of your cousins still sends me text messages,” the Swiss Guard told the cardinal.

“I did not even bother asking him who among the cousins,” Tagle said in jest.

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Tags: Cardinal Tagle , Catholic Church , Holy Father , Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle , Pope Francis , Roman Catholic Church , San Agustin Church , Tagle

  • OFWs – symptom of sick economy

    life :)…

  • marionics

    baka sa mental age he he

    • kanoy

      “Pope Francis said it is a sin for people to waste food. He made that
      proclamation and then he made Chris Christie a saint.” CONAN

  • $26606290

    Perhaps a more meaningful article next time…..it’s becoming few and far between from the Cardinal…

  • mchang1978

    Too anecdotal for a homily which sounds a bit of a tsismis. What transpires during a private audience should not be made a paparazzi stuff. Do some serious exegesis during your homily, Eminenza, not a Pinoy-style nonsense. That’s way below your intelligence!

  • ilocos sur

    still, i am a fan of cardinal tagle.

  • virgoyap

    The simplicity of the Cardinal was shown by the way he speaks to people about himself.

  • BatangSingapore


    • dipaloloko

      With that kind of joke you have on him, you must avoid being next to a kindergarten. You’ll look and sound brainless.

  • Mang Teban

    The ever malicious never fails to spew venom.
    Anecdotes are meant to show the lesser-known fact.
    The cardinal and the pope are as ordinary people as the
    people they serve.
    I find the anecdotes interesting as a Catholic to learn that our Church leaders possess
    such down-to-earth attitude and love to laugh & smile.

  • ztefertilizerscam10

    kindergarten di pinapatawad ng mga Padre Damaso….
    The Catholic sex abuse cases are a series of allegations, investigations, trials and convictions of child sexual abuse crimes committed by Catholic priests, nuns and members of Roman Catholic orders against children as young as 3 years old with the majority between the ages of 11 and 14.[

  • GlenMJacob

    Who knows what Pope really meant by the comment of “kindergarten”. As Hey_Dude alluded to in a related article could it meant the bishops in the Philippines are at the level of “kindergarten”? CBCP should start soul-searching.

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