Two months after his elevation to the College of Cardinals, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle has been appointed to two key councils in the Vatican.
Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday named Tagle a member of the
Pontifical Council for the Family, which deals with pro-life issues, and
the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant
The five other prelates who became cardinal in November together
with Tagle were also given new assignments in the Vatican curia.
“According to the Catholic News Agency, [the cardinals, while
keeping their main jobs, can] bring their experience and perspective to
bear on the discussions and decisions of the central church offices that
assist the Pontiff,” a report posted on the Catholic Bishops’
Conference of the Philippines news website said.
“As member of the two Rome-based offices, Tagle may attend the
councils’ important meetings and receive regular correspondence from
Rome on matters that need consensus,” the report said.
According to the Vatican website, the Pontifical Council for the
Family is responsible for the promotion of the pastoral ministry and
apostolate for the family, dealing with issues related to responsible
procreation, and the defense of human life “in all stages of its
existence, from conception to natural death.”
The council also deals with sex education, demographics,
contraception and abortion; sterilization, ethical and pastoral problems
related to AIDS and other problems of bioethics; legislation regarding
marriage, the family, family policies and the protection of human life,”
the report said.
The appointment is significant, tending to show that the Vatican
is strengthening Tagle and through him, the Catholic Church in the
Philippines in its fight to stop the government from enforcing the
reproductive health (RH) law that the Universal Church views as an
attack on life and the family.
Signed by President Aquino on Dec. 31, the law provides for free
family planning services and artificial contraceptives to Filipinos and
requires sex education in schools.
Allies of the Church have challenged the constitutionality of the new law in the Supreme Court.
Arguments in the court will try to resolve whether the new law is
a government and legislative action against the Church and religious
Pending in Congress is a bill that would
allow divorce in the Philippines, the only country in the world besides
the Vatican that still respects the biblical injunction against divorce.
The Philippines is also one of only five
countries in the world where the HIV/AIDS epidemic is increasing.
Church source said Tagle had personally ministered to people living with
Tagle’s appointment to the Pontifical
Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples is also
significant since the Philippines is a major exporter of labor, with 10
percent of the country’s more than 90 million population working abroad.
According to the Vatican website, the
council was given the task of studying and providing pastoral care to
“people on the move” such as migrants, exiles, refugees, displaced
people, fishermen and sailors, air travelers, road transport workers,
nomads, pilgrims, or circus people.
Government officials have said that Filipino sailors man up to 30 percent of the world’s merchant marine fleet.
Besides Tagle, the other cardinals who were given positions in the Vatican include:
US Cardinal James Harvey, archpriest of
Rome’s Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, membership in the
Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and on the Administration
of the Patrimony of the Holy See, which oversees Vatican property and
Lebanese Cardinal Bechara Rai, head of the
Maronite Catholic Church, membership in the Congregation for Eastern
Churches, the Supreme Court of the Apostolic Signature, the Pontifical
Council for Migrants and Travelers and the Pontifical Council for Social
Indian Cardinal Baselio Cleemis Thottunkal,
head of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church, membership in the
Congregation for Eastern Churches and the Pontifical Council for
Nigerian Cardinal John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan
of Abuja, membership in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
and the presiding committee of the Pontifical Council for the Family.
Colombian Cardinal Ruben Salazar Gomez of
Bogota, membership in the Pontifical Commission for Latin America and
the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.
According to Tagle’s secretary, Fr.
Reginald Malicdem, the cardinal is also a member of two other Vatican
bodies: The Congregation for Catholic Education and the permanent
council of the Synod of Bishops.