By Robin Gomes
“Tonight I say goodbye. Work starts for me this week at the Congregation. It was an honour and blessing to have known you and have collaborated with you. I will always treasure my time with you. You can count on my prayers,” the cardinal told the faithful in Manila’s Immaculate Conception Cathedral, February 9.
“Please pray for me and my mission as well. Let us pray for docility to the Holy Spirit as we continue our life as an archdiocese and await the next archbishop. Stay well and joyful,” the 62-year old cardinal added.
At the end of the Mass, Father Reginald Malicdem, the Cardinal’s personal secretary and rector of the Cathedral, unveiled his coat of arms inlaid in the marbled floor of the central nave, a tradition in the cathedral when an archbishop ends his term.
“This is a source of pride and joy for us since you became our archbishop – the 32nd archbishop in the 441 years of the Archdiocese of Manila,” Fr. Malicdem said.
“This signifies that you will be remembered in all the prayers and Masses offered in this cathedral. This is also a sign that you continue to be a clergy of the Archdiocese of Manila. You still belong to us. And this is an assurance that you always have a home in this cathedral,” the priest said.
“Manila Cathedral will miss your voice,” Fr. Malicdem told Tagle. “If you happen to be in Manila, please know that the doors of Manila Cathedral are always open for you, and it will always be a joy for us to tell you ‘welcome home’. Thank you very much Cardinal Chito,” Fr. Malicdem said, using the endearing term for their much-loved archbishop.
441-year-old Manila archdiocese
Manila Archdiocese was established as a diocese by Pope Gregory XIII on February 6, 1579, as the first and mother diocese of the country separating it from the Archdiocese of Mexico. On Thursday, Manila Archdiocese marked its 441st anniversary.
Pope Francis, on December 8, announced Cardinal Tagle as the Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, the Vatican department that oversees the Catholic Church’s missionary activities worldwide.
Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo takes up the responsibility of Manila Archdiocese until the Pope appoints a new archbishop.
Church's missionary thrust
Cardinal Tagle is the second Asian to head the important Vatican dicastery, after late Indian Cardinal Ivan Dias who served from 2006 to 2011. The appointment is regarded as reaffirming the Church’s missionary mandate and is highly significant for the continent which is home to two-thirds of the world’s population and where Catholics make up only about 3.3 per cent of the population.
Of his 32 pastoral journeys abroad, Pope Francis has dedicated 4 of them to Asia.