VATICAN CITY — In a move that may signal Pope Francis’ plan for the reform of the Roman Curia is close to completion, the pope has named Philippine Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.
The 62-year-old cardinal succeeds Cardinal Fernando Filoni, 73, who since 2011 had led the Vatican office overseeing the Church’s vast mission territories.
Cardinal Tagle is set to take up his new Vatican post early in 2020. The Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, often referred to as Propaganda Fide, is set to become part of a mega-Dicastery for Evangelization, at least according to a draft of the apostolic constitution on the Curia, “Praedicate Evangelium” (“Preach the Gospel”).
According to the draft, distributed for comment in the spring, the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization will be combined, becoming the first of the dicasteries. Currently, the first is the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
The new office would have two sections, one focused on the “first evangelization” and support for Churches in the lands of more recent evangelization — the traditional mission territories — and one focused on evangelization, catechesis and the formation of missionary disciples in traditionally Christian lands.
Mission, evangelization and dialogue have been recurrent themes in Cardinal Tagle’s teaching, preaching and public speaking.
At the 2012 Synod of Bishops on new evangelization, then-Archbishop Tagle emphasized the importance when evangelizing of imitating Jesus’ humility and demonstrating real love and concern for all people, particularly “those neglected and despised by the world.”
Being humble also means recognizing when the Church does not have all the answers, and therefore being willing to remain silent, he said, adding that “a Church at home with silence will make the voiceless believe they are not alone.”
It was during the 2012 synod, at the age of 55, that he was informed he would be made a cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI. The November consistory to create six cardinals, including Cardinal Tagle, was the last before Pope Benedict resigned three months later.
Ordained to the priesthood in 1982 for the Diocese of Imus, he was sent to the United States for further studies, earning a doctorate in theology from The Catholic University of America.
In 2001, he was ordained a bishop and installed as bishop of Imus and, 10 years later, he was installed as archbishop of Manila.
He served as an expert at the special Synod of Bishops on Asia in 1998 and, as a bishop, was a member of the synods in 2008 on the Bible, 2012 on evangelization and 2018 on young people. Pope Francis chose him as one of the presidents delegate of the 2014 and 2015 synod assemblies on the family.
Announcing Cardinal Tagle’s appointment Dec. 8, the Vatican also announced that Cardinal Filoni would become grand master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. Cardinal Filoni succeeds U.S. Cardinal Edwin F. O’Brien, 80, as grand master of the organization that supports Catholics in the Holy Land.
In a statement released by the order, Cardinal O’Brien thanked Pope Francis for allowing him to continue as grand master for five years after he submitted his resignation at the age of 75.