MANILA, March 10, 2013— If history would have it, Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle is unlikely to be the next pope.
In one occasion, Tagle himself admitted, albeit in jest, that he always gets butterflies in his stomach during the tenth month.
Tagle said that on Oct. 17, 2001, he was informed that he will be appointed as bishop of the Diocese of Imus. It was formally announced in Rome five days later.
After ten years, on Oct. 7, 2011, Tagle was told that he will become the Archbishop of Manila. Pope Benedict XVI formally announced his appointment at the Vatican on Oct. 13, 2011.
Last October 23, 2012, while he was in Rome for the Synod of Bishops on New Evangelization, he was informed that he will be named as cardinal the following day.
“The Octobers of my life as I call it,” Tagle said during the Canonical Coronation of the Our Lady of the Pillar image enshrined at the cathedral in Imus, Cavite last December 3.
The cardinal said that it all started on the eve of Our Lady of Pillar’s feast day on Oct. 11, 2001 when a mystical smell of roses filled the cathedral but there was no rose bush.
According to him, he went inside the cathedral to monitor the preparations for the Mass the following day and the workers inside the church already started to be afraid.
“I told them not to be scared because the mother of the covenant is with us,” said Tagle.
“I never thought that it will be the beginning of the many Octobers in one’s life,” he added.
On Tuesday, Tagle along with a colorful cast of 114 other cardinal-electors will begin the secret election, or conclave, to elect a new pope.
All cardinals are papal contenders but Tagle is considered as among the “papabili” or those seen to be the strongest candidates to become pope.
There are a handful of cardinals who are rumored to be strong papal contenders, but no obvious front runner has emerged.
Many Filipinos are hopeful that Tagle, the world’s second youngest cardinal, will be the Philippines and Asia’s first pope to lead the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics.
US-based Survivors Network of those Abuses by Priests also picked the Manila Archbishop as among the best prospects for pope who is most capable of addressing clergy sex abuses scandals.
At 55, Tagle is also considered the netizens’ top papal contenders. The Discovery News reported that he is the most prominent and active cardinal on Facebook.
As of Sunday, Tagle’s Facebook page, which is run by Jesuit Communications for his Sunday TV program, “The World Exposed”, has around 126, 000 “likes”.
Now that this historic moment for the Church is taking place this March and not October, will history not repeat itself for Tagle? (Roy Lagarde)