(Source: Novena/Fides)

Cardinal Luis Antonio Gokim Tagle, the new Prefect of the Congregation for Evangelization of Peoples – or ‘Red Pope’ for the power that position entails – has expressed his desire for more women and young people in Church leadership.

Driving the news

“Some of the best communicators are women and young people”, Tagle told attendants at a seminar for Asian church media workers in Quezon City, in the Philippines.

The cardinal lamented the fact that there was only one nun in the gathering, “and a lot of us here are not only males but celibate”.

“My invitation to the Episcopal Conferences in Asia [is] to get our young people and women involved, especially in social communications”, Tagle urged.

“Having women or young people who know the digital world better than I do, they could give us, if trained in catechesis and the Gospel, wonderful advice also”, he continued, before expressing his hope for “younger faces and women in the next meeting”.

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On Sunday 8 December, Pope Francis appointed Cardinal Tagle, the Archbishop of Manila, to lead the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

The current Prefect, Cardinal Fernando Filoni, was named Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.

Born on June 21, 1957, in Manila, Tagle was ordained a priest on February 27, 1982.

In 1985 he was sent to the Catholic University of America in Washington, where he obtained a doctorate summa cum laude in theology.

From 1997 to 2003 he was a member of the International Theological Commission, within the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

In 1998 he participated as an expert in the Special Assembly for Asia of the Synod of Bishops.

Appointed Bishop of the Diocese of Imus in 2001 by John Paul II, Tagle gave impetus to the implementation of the directives arising from the diocesan pastoral assembly held in 1999, focusing especially on young people.

In 2011, Benedict XVI appointed him Archbishop of Manila, later naming him Cardinal in the Consistory of 24 November 2012.

In 2013 Pope Francis had appointed him a member of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

In 2015 he was elected President of Caritas Internationalis.

Why it matters

In his new post as Prefect of the Congregation for Evangelization of Peoples, Tagle – also known as ‘Chito’ or the ‘Asian Bergoglio’, for his theological affinity with Pope Francis – will oversee the more than 186 archdioceses, 785 dioceses and 82 apostolic vicariates that the Church counts as mission territory.

The Filipino cardinal’s appointment to one of the most important Vatican jobs positions him as ‘papabile’, a key contender to take over from Pope Francis at the next conclave.

The fact Tagle is from Asia also represents an acceleration of Francis’ reforms of the Vatican and the global Church.

That’s in the context of the Pope’s desire for what he has called the “de-Europeanisation” of Catholicism and his wish for a Church “on mission” to the global and existential “peripheries”.

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