The true measure of the Francis Effect?

Cardinal Tagle

Cardinal Luis Tagle of Manila is a moderate leader open to compromise. He rejects ostentation and believes in a hierarchy that listens. Is the new confidence of Catholics like Cardinal Tagle the true measure of the 'Francis Effect'?

- The Boston Globe

He prefers to be called by his nickname 'Chito' rather than formal titles. He emphasizes the need for the Church to listen as much as it talks, and he exudes a sort of slow-burn charisma that doesn't smack you in the face so much as it gradually envelops you.

Francis clearly likes what he sees in the popular Philippine prelate, who is just 56. Francis recently appointed Cardinal Tagle one of three co-presidents for a critically important summit of bishops in the autumn. 

Before taking over in Manila in 2011, Cardinal Tagle served as bishop of the smaller Philippine diocese of Imus, where he was famous for not owning a car, preferring to either walk or to hop on one of the cheap minibuses known as a 'jeepneys' that working-class Filipinos use to move around. He was also renowned for inviting beggars in the square outside his cathedral to eat with him.

Like Francis, Cardinal Tagle has a big pastor's heart. We spoke about the estimated 10 million Filipinos who have left the country to work overseas, often trying to escape grinding poverty, and his anguish was palpable.

Tagle said he dreads going to Manila International Airport for precisely this reason.

'Every time I fly out, I see these gut-wrenching goodbyes at the gate,' he said. 'It tears your heart out.'

In the Philippines, one flashpoint raising questions about how hard a line Catholic leaders should take has been a bitterly debated Reproductive Health Law.

Though Cardinal Tagle took a clear stand against the bill, he was criticized by some for not pushing harder.

He is a moderate who prefers seeking compromise.

He's open to considering the arguments for allowing divorcees who remarry to receive communion and the other sacraments.

'We have a principle we have to believe in,' he said, referring to the idea that marriage is for life. 'But the openness comes on pastoral judgments you have to make in concrete situations, because no two cases are alike.'

One can debate the merits of those positions, but there's no question Cardinal Tagle and leaders who think like him appear strengthened in their convictions one year into the new regime of Pope Francis.

If you're looking for a 'Francis effect,' in other words, that's one way to gauge it.

Meet the Philippine Pope Francis (The Boston Globe)

MORE:

Bio-Data of Archbishop Luis Antonio G. Cardinal Tagle, DD (Archdiocese of Manila)

Filipino Cardinal Tagle warns against hypocrisy in Lent (Vatican Radio)

Cardinal Tagle urges laity to renew society (Vatican Radio)

Cardinal Tagle offers Christ's suffering and crucifixion as models of leadership (National Catholic Reporter)

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Habemus Papabili - Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle (Salt and Light/YouTube)

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