While the name of 57-year-old Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila had already been mentioned as a “long-shot” candidate to be pope at the 2013 conclave, his election on May 14 as the new head of Caritas Internationalis (an international confederation of Catholic charity agencies, including Catholic Relief Services) has increased the profile of this inspiring Asian Church leader even more. Coming from the Philippines, Tagle has first-hand knowledge of pressing issues such as poverty, disaster relief and migration (11 million Filipino people have left their country). This makes him especially qualified to represent the viewpoint of the Catholic Church at coming summits on sustainable development or the consequences of climate change, following Pope Francis’ June encyclical Laudato si’ on environmental issues. But besides the choice of a gifted communicator, it is difficult not to think about how this could also help to pave the way for Tagle in the future. Due to Pope Francis’ focus on the poor, Tagle will become one of the most influential Catholic figures in that field for implementing the current Pope’s vision, according to journalist John Allen, Jr. While nobody knows how many years it will take until the next pontifical election, Tagle “would make a strong runner if the key issue next time is continuity with Francis,” Allen notes. (Source: Inside the Vatican, June-July).
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