MANILA, Philippines – A senior Filipino Roman Catholic prelate is hoping the Vatican will promote a Filipino bishop to the cardinalate soon because the Philippines is now without a representative on the Catholic conclave for the first time since the 1960s.
Retired Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, the country’s only representative in the conclave, lost his seat when he turned 80 years old last week.
Retired Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz said he expected Pope Benedict XVI to consider two Filipino bishops for the cardinalate in the next consistory. The last consistory was in February 2012.
Cruz said Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle and Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, who succeeded Rosales and former Cardinal Ricardo Vidal, respectively, could be headed for the cardinalate next year. Palma is currently the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.
“At least for the moment we can expect two cardinals in the meeting, the Cardinal Archbishop of Cebu and the Cardinal Archbishop of Manila,” he said. “In principle, the successor of a cardinal in an archdiocese also becomes a cardinal in due time.”
At present, Rosales and Vidal are the two living Filipino cardinals. However, they are now ineligible to join the conclave, which elects a new pope in case of a vacancy, due to a rule made by Pope Paul VI in 1970 which limits the participation of cardinals once they reach the age of 80.
Rosales turned 80 last August 10. Vidal is 81 years old. Another Filipino cardinal, Jose Cardinal Sanchez, died last March. Sanchez served as prefect emeritus of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy.
With Rosales turning 80 last week, the Philippines, the largest Catholic country in Asia, lost its representative in the College of Cardinals, which advises the Pope and chooses a new pope in case there is a vacancy.
Roman Catholicism is the dominant religion in the Philippines, with an estimated 63 million followers. The country has produced six cardinals. The first Filipino cardinal was Archbishop Rufino Cardinal Santos of the Archdiocese of Manila. He was made cardinal in 1960. He died in 1973.