MANILA, Philippines --- Archbishop Emeritus Oscar V. Cruz yesterday said that although Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle has the qualities to become the next Pope, his chances is very slim given his young age and lack of experience.
During Wednesday's Fernandina Media Forum held at Club Filipino, San Juan City, Cruz said that while Cardinal Tagle is "intellectual", "kind" and "very close to God", it is not an assurance that he will be chosen the next Pope.
Cruz told reporters that Cardinals, when choosing the next Holy See via Conclave, usually vote base on the age and experience of a candidate.
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"Isa sa kanyang pinakamataas na katangian eh ang kanyang kaisipan. Matalino siya. Simula ng siya ay nag-aral hanggang siya ay nakatapos, minimum ang summa cum laude. At ito ay hindi lang sa Pilipinas kung 'di rin sa ibang bansa kung saan sya ay nag-aral at nag graduate studies (One of his top traits is his mentality. He's very wise. Ever since he started studying up until he graduated, he was a summa cum laude. And he achieved this not only in the Philippines but in other countries where he took up graduate studies)," Cruz said.
"Second, mabait siya. Ni minsan hindi ko siya nakitang magalit (Second, he's very kind. Not once did I see him get mad)."
"Third, talagang taong banal, malapit sa Diyos. Iyan ang on the ground reality kay Cardinal Tagle. Now, mahahalal ba siya na Pope? Tingin ko hindi. Kulang pa siya (Tagle) sa karanasan (Third, he's a very holy person, very close to God. That's the ground reality about Cardinal Tagle. Now, will he be elected the next Pope? I think it will not happen. He lacks experience)," he said.
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Cruz said just like running a country, being a leader of the Universal Church or Head of State is very hard and requires lot of experience.
He added that choosing the next Pope will also require Divine Providence.
"So there is no certainty. Ang tawag diyan eh (that is called) Divine Providence. Hindi natin alam kung sino ang pedeng maging next Pope (We still don't know who will be next Pope)," Cruz said.
Cruz, however, clarified that once he get the necessary experience, "there's a very strong possibility" Tagle could become pope.
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A Reuters report earlier cited Cardinal Tagle as among the main contenders for the papal post though it also noted that Cardinal Tagle has just been elevated to the College of Cardinals last year and is one of the youngest Cardinals.
Cardinal Tagle was elevated to the College of Cardinals by Pope Benedict XVI in Rome, Italy in November last year. Aside from Cardinal Tagle, there were five others from Colombia, India, Lebanon, Nigeria and the United States who were elevated to the College of Cardinals in November 2012.
Cardinal Tagle, 55 years old, is the seventh Filipino Cardinal. He was only designated as Manila Archbishop in 2011, succeeding retired Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales. Tagle is also the 32nd archbishop of Manila.
Fourteen early winners in the party-list race have been named Friday even as the protracted count of votes continues.