Amid rumors that Pope Francis will soon step down as leader of the Catholic Church due to failing health, a report speculates that Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, the former Archbishop of Manila, is one of the two leading choices to succeed the Holy Father.
The other contender for the papacy is Cardinal Peter Erdo of Hungary, the archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest.
According to a report by the Catholic Herald, whoever will be anointed as the next pope between the two leading contenders will determine the direction of the Catholic Church.
Erdo, a canon law expert, would be hailed by conservatives whose attitude towards issues such as LGBTQ rights, abortion, reproductive rights, and other issues are more traditionalist. Whereas, Tagle’s possible papacy will most likely continue Pope Francis’s liberalization of the Church, bringing it closer to people amid the changing demographics of the Church.
“[T]he election of a Pope from the Global South, would perhaps signal the changing face of Catholicism, and indicate that Pope Francis’ liberal direction had been [cemented],” the Catholic Herald report said.
However, the report cautioned about too much enthusiasm about the Church being too liberal, as the College of Cardinals, despite being less and less European, is still conservative in nature.
The report also mentioned that Pope Francis also favors the current Vatican secretary of state and Italian Cardinal, Pietro Parolin, as the prospective next leader of the church.
In 2019, Tagle was appointed by the Holy Father as the prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. Former Philippine Ambassador to the Holy See, Henrietta de Villa, said that this appointment “put him closer to the pope.”
“Crucially, Cardinal Tagle is seen as representing the Church’s progressive wing, having criticized previously ‘harsh words’ against LGBT Catholics,” the report further pointed out, though it also said that Cardinal Tagle is still from a conservative country, which may tarnish his “liberal credentials as a successor to the current pope.”
Marvin Joseph Ang is a news and creative writer who follows developments on politics, democracy, and popular culture. He advocates for a free press and national democracy. Follow him on Twitter at @marvs30ang for latest news and updates.
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