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'GRACE FROM GOD'

Bishops defend Tagle’s promotion to Vatican

MANILA, Philippines — Catholic Church leaders on Wednesday took turns defending former Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle from President Rodrigo Duterte’s charge that the prelate’s “meddling” in political affairs had irked Pope Francis and led to his transfer to the Vatican.

Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga said Tagle’s appointment as prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples was “a grace from God and a blessing to the Philippines.”

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Tagle flew to the Vatican in February to assume his post.

In a speech at the 2020 General Assembly of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines on Tuesday, President Duterte said that Tagle was “investigated” by the Vatican and replaced by an “officer in charge.”

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Duterte also claimed that Pope Francis had discovered that Tagle had funneled church funds to the “yellows”—his derogatory term for his political enemies.

“Look at what happened. We don’t have a bishop now … He was removed … I am the President, so of course I will know about it because I am listening to everyone,” Duterte said. “Contrary to the statement of the President … Cardinal Tagle is being groomed to be the successor of the present Pope himself who (had) appointed him,” countered Father Edwin Gariguez, executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) National Secretariat for Social Action Justice and Peace, quoting a December 2019 article by renowned Vaticanist John Allen Jr.

Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, de facto administrator of the Archdiocese of Manila until Tagle’s replacement is named, said there was “no need to dignify unfounded accusations.”

Father Jerome Secillano, executive secretary of the CBCP permanent committee on public affairs, said Tagle was “simply exercising a right legally granted to all of us“ when he made comments “about governance and this administration.”

On Facebook, Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David described Duterte’s story as “unbelievably ludicrous.”

He added: “Maybe you should ask (the President) where he’s getting his fake news from.”

Said the bishop: “I suggest that we go back to the real issues of the day, like the COVID-19 pandemic and how to get our act together to prevent it from further spreading in our country.”

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TAGS: CBCP, Luis Antonio Tagle, Pope Francis, Rodrigo Duterte
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