Cardinal Tagle has lamented how quicky humanity is forgetting the lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic, denouncing that the world has already fallen back into old patterns of conflict, criticisms and political power plays.

– “Unfortunately, I think humility isn’t welcome in the new normal”

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, devoted part of his sermon at Mass at the Pontifical Filipino College Sunday to analysing the ‘new normal’ now dawning on humanity in the aftermath of the worst of the coronavirus crisis.

“People are still talking about facing the new normal, hoping that – and we should hope, really – that the pandemic and its effects come to an end soon, and we pray [for that]”, the Filipino prelate, Archbishop of Manila from 2011-2020, said.

But Tagle, who is also the president of Caritas Internationalis, the worldwide federation of Catholic relief, development, and social service organisations recalled that “when a few months ago the pandemic hit us, one of the constant insights we used to hear at the time was this mysterious virus has humbled humanity, this invisible virus has humbled doctors, experts, scientists”.

“Up to now”, Tagle continued, “they’re struggling to find a vaccine, a medicine, and powerful people also lost money. Big businesses that have been in existence for so long they’re even old financial, economic empires – some have declared bankruptcy”.

The cardinal observed that those two phenomena – the failure of scientists to find a COVID-19 vaccine and the failure of many businesses – have led many people to claim “that if there is one fruit of the pandemic it is to make us humble”.

The prelate, however, disagreed strongly with that reading of the coronavirus reality, and lamented that “unfortunately, I think humility is not welcome in the new normal”.

“We are back to the fighting, we are back to the blaming, we are back to the imposition of influence and power. When will we learn?”, the cardinal decried.

– “If we want a new world it cannot ever come through bearing power and authority that destroys”

Taking his cue from the COVID-19 crisis but also from the Gospel reading for the day – Jesus inviting the heavy-laden to “take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Mt. 11.25-30) – Tagle insisted that “if we want a new world it cannot ever come through bearing power and authority that destroys”.

“What saves and renews is humble meek service”, the cardinal stressed, highlighting that in contrast to the political kingdoms of our day with riches and strength Jesus the King enters Jerusalem riding on a lowly donkey.

“A lowly donkey that will put to shame all the weapons of pride and domination, for that is not the true kingdom”, Tagle recalled.

“The true kingdom is inaugurated by the humble one with the meek heart”, the cardinal concluded, encouraging Catholics to learn from Jesus “by being meek to one another”.

More on Novena on Cardinal Tagle:

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PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. University ethics lecturer with 4 years' experience in religion journalism.