Philippines Pray for Asia’s First Pope

Tagle after receiving the three-corned biretta in Nov. 2012 (AP)

Newly elected Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Archbishop of Manila, Philippines, wipes his eyes after he received the red three-cornered biretta hat by Pope Benedict XVI during a consistory in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012. Six new cardinals are joining the elite club of churchmen who will elect the next pope, bringing a more geographically diverse mix into the European-dominated College of Cardinals. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

With news of Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation, the largest Christian community in Asia is gunning for their chance to bring one of their own to the world stage. The Philippines enigmatic leader, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, was simultaneously shocked and saddened by the pontiff’s decision. “The announcement also brought sadness to us. We felt like children clinging to a father who bids them farewell,” he said, praising Benedict’s “humility, honesty, courage, and sincerity,” he said. While still considered a long shot, Tagle’s reputation as a lively, energetic Vatican insider and former adviser of the pope makes him an attractive candidate to succeed the 85-year-old pope. Father Francis Lucas, a leader of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, said Tagle would be a dream come true. “He is humble, he’s meek, he’s simple, he’s spiritual, he’s media-savvy, he’s very bright.” The election is on February 28.