MANILA, Dec. 12, 2011— The job as new head of Manila’s Catholic Church started Monday for Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle who turned emotional as the crowd praised him for his appointment.
“We are grateful to the Holy Father for giving Manila the best in our own,” said Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.
“Of course he has our own collaboration. Manila is theArchbishop Tagle grandmother of all the dioceses,” he said.
Tagle, born in 1957 in Manila, was formally installed today as the 32nd archbishop of Manila in a solemn rite held at the Manila Cathedral.
As the crowd heaped praise on Tagle, the church leader appeared emotional several times during the ceremony. He was seen wiping tears especially when he delivered his homily.
Tagle also broke into tears at the part when he acknowledged the support extended to him by his parents and when he said goodbye to the clergy and faithful of Imus diocese where he served for the past 10 years.
“You have loved me. You have directed me to the Lord. Please remember me as loving you,” said Tagle in his homily with his voice cracking with emotion.
And in facing his new role as archbishop, Tagle said he is hoping that the Manila faithful would also welcome him as the successor of retired Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales.
“There is much that I will learn and should learn from you. Teach me. Be patient with me. Let us love one another at all times,” he said.
He also vowed that his new post, which had been occupied by one of the country’s prominent Church figures such as the late Jaime Cardinal Sin, will not change him the way he is.
He said he will not allow himself to be “blinded” that his new post as Archbishop of Manila represents more power.
“Love makes one a true shepherd, not position,” said Tagle.
“I tell myself as though it were the Lord telling me, ‘Chito, do not think you have become great because of your new position. Be great rather in being a beloved and loving disciple of the Lord’,” he furthered.
At least 90 cardinals, bishops and archbishops from all over the Philippines and several Asian countries and foreign dignitaries attended the historical event.
Tagle was escorted by Rosales to his cathedra after the civil ceremonies outside the Manila Cathedral.
Symbolic keys to their cities were turned over by Mayors Alfredo Lim of Manila, Guia Gomez Ejercito of San Juan, Jejomar Binay, Jr. of Makati, Benhur Abalos of Mandaluyong and Antonino Calixto of Pasay City to the new Manila archbishop.
“The mission of the Church should be wholly directed by the Lord who is always present as Shepherd and guide,” Tagle said in his 27-minute homily.
He added human efforts should continue but he cautioned his congregation “unless the Lord directs the catch, we labour in vain.”
The Papal Nuncio to the Philippine Archbishop Guiseppe Pinto and Archbishop Palma were Archbishop Tagle’s concelebrants. Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal also attended the installation rites.
American Ambassador Harry K. Thomas told CBCPNews that he looks forward to meeting Archbishop Tagle in the near future.
Swiss Ambassador to the Philippines Ivo Sieber, Sri Lankan Second Secretary Ruwani Cooray, Vietnamese Counselor Tran Thi Nam Phuong and several other dignitaries also witnessed the event.
Other government officials present were Chief Justice Renato Corona, Senator Bong Revilla Jr. and wife Cavite Rep. Lani Mercado, Parananque Rep. Roilo Golez, and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office Chairperson Margie Juico.
Other personalities present during the ceremony were President Benigno Aquino III’s sisters, Maria Elena “Ballsy” Aquino-Cruz, Aurora Corazon “Pinky” Aquino-Abellada, and Victoria Elisa “Viel” Aquino-Dee. [Melo M. Acuna/CBCPNews]