“There is no other person fit to lead the Caritas Internationalis family other than his eminence Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle.”
This was the strong statement made by a Caritas Internationalis (CI) representative to the Philippines following Cardinal Tagle’s election as the first Asian President of the confederation of worldwide Catholic charities.
According to Joseph Chacko, leader of the Caritas Internationalis’ Solidarity Team for Emergency Partnership (STEP) currently working on the Catholic Church’s Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) response, the appointment of the Cardinal is the fulfilment of Caritas’ goal to serve the poor as what Pope Francis has always been saying.
“I think we have the right person and the right place now to show to the world that we are going to the peripheries and becoming witnesses to serve the poor,” Chacko said.
He also cited the similarities between Pope Francis and Cardinal Tagle, who are both known for their down-to-earth personalities and great love for the poor and oppressed. He also said how this could be an opportunity “to reclaim what Caritas is all about, a commitment to the poor.”
“Advocating the poor, that will be the change the Cardinal will be making,” he said.
The STEP is a mechanism that Caritas Internationalis put in place to coordinate one of the biggest humanitarian response in the country related to Typhoon Yolanda with the church’s social action arm, NASSA/Caritas Philippines.
While Chacko said that Tagle’s new role could attract opportunities for NASSA/Caritas Philippines to get more funding and support from the global Caritas, this could also mean more challenges to become a model Caritas to the world.
“That means we can’t afford to make mistakes. We even have to protect Cardinal Tagle’s name and stature,” he said.
Tagle will be replacing Cardinal Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras after serving as president for eight years.
As head of Caritas Internationalis, he is expected to strengthen the confederation’s works in the light of serving the most vulnerable and in living out charity and justice throughout the world.
Formed in the 1950s and present in 165 countries worldwide with South Sudan as the newest member, Caritas Internationalis is the Catholic Church’s arm that responds to disasters, promotes integral human development and advocates on the causes of poverty and conflict.
“I wouldn’t be even surprised if this new role would pave the way for Tagle to become a pope someday,” Chacko.