Philippine church leaders and netizens took to social media to wish Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle a speedy recovery after he was tested positive of the new coronavirus disease.
In a circular released to Catholic bishops on Sept. 12, Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Kalookan, acting president of the bishops’ conference, urged fellow prelates to pray for the cardinal.
“Let us all please support him with our prayers,” said Bishop David.
Cardinal Tagle, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, tested positive for COVID-19 upon his arrival in Manila from Rome on Sept. 10.
The cardinal is in Manila for a brief break and to visit his elderly parents in the province of Cavite.
“Now he is prevented from doing so because he has to stay in isolation in the next 14 days,” said Bishop David.
Cardinal Tagle tested negative of the disease when he had a test on Sept. 7 to be allowed to make the trip to Manila.
“In all likelihood, he may have picked up [the disease] right at the airport or in the airplane,” said Bishop David.
“He probably could not avoid being greeted by people, especially [Filipino migrant workers], who recognized him at the airport or inside the plane,” added the bishop.
“Fortunately, he is asymptomatic,” said Bishop David.
Call for prayers
“Let’s join together our hands in prayers to our almighty God for our beloved cardinal for his swift recovery,” read a statement from Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga.
“We humbly beg our dear God to help, to heal our cardinal, as we offer Holy Masses for him,” he added.
Cardinal Orlando Cardinal Quevedo of Cotabato said he would offer Holy Masses and Rosaries for the intention of Cardinal Tagle.
“May our loving God of mercy and compassion grant you a speedy and full recovery. May the Blessed Virgin Mary, our Mother, Health of the sick, Mother of Mercy and Hope whose Holy Name we celebrate today, intercede for you before her Son, the Divine Healer. Best wishes, dear friend, God bless,” said Cardinal Quevedo
Bishop Colin Bagaforo of Kidapawan, head of the social action secretariat of the bishops’ conference, asked the Filipino faithful to pray for the cardinal’s healing.
“This is a call for everyone that we take seriously the necessary precautions against COVID-19,” said the prelate.
“Wear face masks and face shields, observe physical distancing and sanitize our hands always. Let us help each other by observing this health protocol,” said Bishop Bagaforo.
Bishop Oscar Florencio of the Military Ordinariate of the Philippines also offered prayers for the cardinal “so that he may continue to serve [the] Church and the pope.”
“Heal also those who have been infected with the dreaded disease and may all of us see your divine guidance and will win all these trials,” said Bishop Florenci.
Church officials said necessary checks were being conducted on those who have come into contact with the cardinal in the past days.
Cardinal Tagle has been staying at the Pontificio Collegio Filippino since his arrival in Rome in February.
“While currently there are no perceived health and safety risks, as part of our precautionary measures, residents are instructed to remain within the premises of the Collegio until further instructions,” said Father Gregory Gaston, rector of the residence.
Cardinal was in the city of Turin early the week before last to take part in the episcopal ordination of the new Apostolic Nuncio for Mongolia, Father Giorgio Marengo.
On Sept. 8, he led an online recollection for Filipino COVID-19 frontliners organized by Caritas Philippines and the Cebu-based Dilaab Foundation.
Aside from being Prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, Cardinal Tagle is also president of Caritas Internationalis, the federation of Catholic charities worldwide.
He is the first head of a Vatican dicastery who is infected with COVID-19.
In the Philippines, at least four Catholic church leaders were already infected with the disease.
Bishop Manuel Sobreviñas of Imus and Archbishop Oscar Cruz of Lingayen Dagupan died due to complications of the new coronavirus disease while Bishop Broderick Pabillo, Apostolic Administrator of Manila, and Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez of Kalookan have fully recovered.