CBCP mum on ‘Tagle as Pope’ report

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has no plans of commenting on a report published by a British Catholic newspaper claiming Filipino Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle is one of the possible successors of Pope Francis.

CBCP president and Kalookan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David told the Daily Tribune they will not issue any statement because they do not dignify those reports. He said the CBCP has no control over the secular media making such speculations.

“None. We don’t dignify those. We have no control of the secular media engaging in such speculations,” David said in a text message.

This comes after the Catholic Herald published a story on 5 August on its website alleging that a “pope from the developing world — such as the Philippines’ Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle — would be hailed by liberals, given the changing demographics of the Church.”

Tagle was also named in 2013 as one of the strong contenders for papacy after Benedict XVI resigned.

Some of the leading contenders for the papacy also include Esztergom-Budapest Archbishop Péter Cardinal Erdő.

“A contest between Erdö and Tagle would show a Church at a crossroads, not just between conservatives and liberals, but between the forces of traditionalism in Europe — the original heart of Catholicism — and the changing face of the faith, focused more in the developing world, yet still largely conservative in outlook, not least on LGBT issues,” the article said.

“If symbolism matters, then Erdö vs Tagle would be a contest not just of ideas but of perception and identity,” it added.

The other was Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who the report said was also one of the Pope’s favored cardinals.

Declining health

The report also came after speculations surfaced that Francis becoming the second consecutive pope to voluntarily resign have persisted, with observers citing his declining health and canceled trips as reasons for concern about his future ability to fill the role.

Francis had the left part of his colon surgically removed last July due to a bowel condition, and he has recently been forced to move around with the assistance of a cane or wheelchair due to a knee condition. Those close to Francis, however, have dismissed talk of a possible resignation.

In June, Tagle became a member of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. Last year, he was also appointed as Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples at the Vatican in 2019.

He also served as Archbishop of Manila from 2011 to 2019.

According to the website of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the College of Cardinals, composed of bishops and Vatican officials around the world has the primary responsibility of electing a new pontiff.

Following a vacancy in the papacy, the cardinals convene at the Vatican for a series of meetings known as general congregations. They talk about the needs and challenges that the Catholic Church faces around the world.

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