Starting a new job always involves a learning curve, but Filipino Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle got much more than he bargained for when he moved to Rome in February to begin his duties as prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples.
Not only did he have a new position after being the archbishop of Manila for almost nine years, his first month coincided with the start of Italy’s lockdown and global travel restrictions because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Cardinal Tagle is living the lockdown – and working mostly from home – at Rome’s Pontifical Filipino College where, he said, “I feel safe and supported by a community of Filipino, Asian and African young priests studying in Rome. I hope my presence among them also makes the CEP (Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples) close to them, since their countries and dioceses are served by this dicastery.”
The cardinal concelebrates Mass each morning with the resident priests and, each Sunday, he serves as the principal celebrant and homilist for a Mass livestreamed on Facebook and followed by thousands of Filipinos around the world.
“Coming to Rome for a universal mission at a time when the lockdown occurs – I am still in awe at the surprises of God,” the cardinal said.
“I bring this paradox to reflection and prayer,” he said. “The situation is re-educating me about the dynamic tension between the local and the universal.”
Picture: Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples and president of Caritas Internationalis, celebrates Mass at the Pontifical Filipino College in Rome on 27th February 2020, the anniversary of his priestly ordination. The cardinal is living at the college, with priests from the Philippines, other parts of Asia and Africa during Rome’s coronavirus lockdown. (CNS photo/courtesy of Father Alfonso Alojipan).