Philippines hails new cardinal

MANILA - Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said he and other Filipino prelates-Archbishop Jose Palma and Archbishop Romulo Valles-waited outside the Vatican synod hall after hearing the news that Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle had been named cardinal.

"When I hugged him, he cried on my shoulders. Tears of joy but also tears of fear! Every grace is also a responsibility, he told me later. We pray with joy now. Let us pray for Cardinal Tagle on the months and years ahead. Rejoice dear Philippines! One of our sons is now a cardinal!" Villegas said in a statement released in Manila.

Clerics and lay leaders echoed the same joy and fear that Villegas expressed following the surprise announcement by Pope Benedict XVI that the 55-year-old Tagle would be elevated to cardinal at the consistory on Nov. 24 in the Vatican.

Tagle is scheduled to return to Manila on Nov. 1. He will celebrate Mass on Nov. 3 in Paco, Manila, to launch the "Year of Faith" in his archdiocese.

"We are like John the Baptist crying out in the wilderness," said Tagle in an interview with Vatican Radio yesterday, a day after Benedict's announcement that he had joined the ranks of cardinals.

"You're not even sure if people will give you a fair hearing," said Tagle, who has been described as a "golden child," a rising "star," and a potential papal contender.

"You may be saying the right things but people will not listen to you if the manner by which you communicate reminds them of a triumphalistic know-it-all type of institution," said Tagle, who became head of the Manila archdiocese upon the retirement a year ago of Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales.

Terrified of task's magnitude

"I would like to thank the Holy Father for his trust and confidence not only in me but in the Church in Manila and in the Philippines. I take this not only as a gift but also as a call for the Church in the Philippines to take seriously our mission specially in Asia," he said.

"I am also consoled by the assurances of prayer and support from so many people. But I am terrified by the magnitude of the task at hand," Tagle said in his official statement issued from Rome, where he is attending the monthly synod of bishops on new evangelization.

"It requires a further broadening of the horizon, a careful study of worldwide developments in society and the Church and an intensification of the mission of the Archdiocese of Manila and the Church in the Philippines, even in different parts of the world, especially in Asia."

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