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Priest: Manila archbishop seeks ‘quieter and listening church’
October 30th, 2012

Catholic San Francisco editor Rick DelVecchio interviewed Father Benildo M. Pilande by email about Manila Archbishop Luis Tagle’s elevation to cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI. A priest of the Manila archdiocese, Father Pilande served the Archdiocese of San Francisco from 2006 to 2010. A news article on the elevation of Archbishop Tagle, 55, is on the cover of this issue.

Do you know Archbishop Tagle?

As early as my seminary formation I have heard a lot of good things about my archbishop, Cardinal- designate “Chito” Tagle. There was a time that our professor in theology asked us to attend a talk to be given by him and I was really amazed on how he has explained in simple analogies, easily understood and with much humor the theology of the fatherhood of God. Even today I still have notes of his talk.

What are your impressions of him and his work both as a pastor and as a theologian?

I don’t have much knowledge of him being a pastor since he belonged to a different diocese then. But what I know of is his passion for teaching. He told us, myself and other seminary formators that teaching and spending time with seminarians is his way of taking time out from his very busy schedule. That is why he decided to continue teaching this coming semester which is November. But I don’t know if he can still accommodate his teaching load.

In the most recent annual retreat of the entire clergy of Manila, Archbishop Tagle facilitated a one-week retreat per age bracket which the presbyterate appreciated very much. Because the clergy, from the very young to the very old retired priests, was able to know him better and likewise him knowing his clergy. During each entire week any priest who wants to talk to him is given an opportunity to sit down and converse with him.

How significant is it for the Filipino church that the pope would name this young, humble archbishop to be a cardinal?

I believe his appointment will bring more vigor and vitality to the Filipino church as well as to millions of overseas Filipino workers and migrant Filipinos all over the world who more often become missionaries in foreign land. The faith that every Filipinos celebrate and share manifest the missionary character of their identity which is very much in tune with one of the vision of Cardinal-designate Tagle. In one of our clergy meeting in Manila he urged us priests (as well as lay catechists) to do mission in foreign countries, like New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Brunei to name a few.

It is often mentioned that the “global South” is underrepresented in the top hierarchy of the church. Do you feel this appointment will help to give more of a voice to Catholics in the global South, where there may not be a lot of economic wealth but where the church is growing?

Archbishop Tagle in his intervention during the recent synod spoke of a need for a quieter and listening church that listens to the people and more so with God. Though his elevation will have an effect in giving more voice to the south, still I don’t look at his appointment as such but rather giving more voice to those who cannot speak for themselves and an active listening to the voice of God.




From November 2, 2012 issue of Catholic San Francisco.


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