Filipino Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle has said his appointment as cardinal bishop of the Catholic Church was “unexpected.”
“This is unexpected, but in faith and in trusting the Lord, the Holy Father, we said: yes,” the cardinal said in a video message posted on Facebook.
“I know I’m not alone. You are with us in prayer, in communion and in service of the church,” he added.
Cardinal Tagle expressed his gratitude to all those who sent their congratulations.
“I would like to thank you for your kind words and greetings,” he said. “Thank you very much. We pray for you, too,” he added.
On Monday, May 4, the presidential palace in Manila congratulated the cardinal for his appointment.
“We greet His Eminence Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle for his appointment as a cardinal bishop,” said Harry Roque, spokesman of President Rodrigo Duterte.
“Your success, your Eminence, is the success of the whole Filipino people. Thank you for the honor and congratulations,” Roque added.
The palace statement came even as President Duterte has claimed earlier that Cardinal Tagle was “removed” as archbishop of the Archdiocese of Manila for meddling in politics.
The former archbishop of Manila is the first Filipino to become cardinal bishop, making him the highest-ranking Filipino bishop in almost 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines.
Cardinal bishops hold the highest rank in the College of Cardinals, followed by cardinal priests and cardinal deacons.
Cardinal bishops are “consulted by the pope anytime individually or as a group, with regards to any question in the Church,” according to the Pontificio Collegio Filippino in Rome.
Cardinal bishops also help the pope in coordinating with all of the world’s cardinals.
Cardinal bishops hold jurisdiction over a church in a suburb of Rome while working in departments of the Roman Curia, the central administration of the church.
It is also from the ranks of cardinal bishops that the Dean of College of Cardinals is elected. The dean presides at the conclave in the case of “sede vacante,” a period when there is no pope.
In February, Cardinal Tagle left the Philippines to assume his post as prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.