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Pope names Tagle among top-ranking cardinals

Church • 08:00 AM Sun May 3, 2020
Roy Lagarde/CBCP

Pope Francis on Friday has elevated Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle to the order of “cardinal bishops,” the highest rank within the College of Cardinals.

Tagle and Cardinal Beniamino Stella are the newest members of the group, joining the ranks of 12 others who are mostly from the Latin rite and three cardinal patriarchs from the Oriental Churches.

The College of Cardinals has three ranks: cardinal deacons, cardinal priests, and cardinal bishops.

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.

Cardinal deacons, often called “the pope’s cabinet,” are mostly curial officials, while cardinal priests are those working in dioceses all over the world.

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.

The dean also represents the Holy See during the "sede vacante," and asks the pope-elect if he accepts the role.

There are customarily six cardinal bishops from the Latin Church until Pope Francis broke the tradition and appointed more of them.

The new additions to the group were deemed necessary as one of its members, Maronite Patriarch Bechara Rai, turned 80, the retirement age for cardinals, last February. Six other members had been over the age of 80, making them ineligible to enter a conclave.

The former Manila archbishop left the Philippines in February to assume his post as prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, a powerful Vatican office overseeing the church’s vast mission territories.

Also known as “Propaganda Fidei,” its prefect is also known as the “red pope” because of its considerable power in the Roman Curia and the appointment of bishops in mission lands.

Since his elevation as cardinal, he was also given the church of St. Felix of Cantalice in the Centocelle as his “titular church.”

Cardinal Tagle’s new appointment was made on May 1, the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker. Incidentally, he was appointed to the top Vatican post last Dec. 8, 2019, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.

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