A new cardinal-designate said he was encouraged by the recent bishops' synod in Rome, which emphasized an encounter with the risen Christ as the basis of all evangelization.
What “caught my attention in the synod was the desire of everyone to make evangelization not so much a strategy but a living encounter with the living Lord,” Archbishop Luis A. Tagle of the Philippines told CNA Oct. 29.
“I guess in the past decades or so we were so focused on how to do things all over the world – churches were trying to strategize. In itself it is not bad. But we might forget that faith is not a product of a strategy.”
“Faith might bring forth new strategies. But if it is not rooted in friendship with Jesus Christ and the following of Jesus Christ, then what kind of evangelization will happen?”
Archbishop Tagle attended the Oct. 7-28 new evangelization synod in Rome, during which it was announced that the Manila prelate was among the six bishops to be appointed cardinal. The group will be elevated at a consistory to be held Nov. 24.
“It is a real calling, a real mission,” he said, “to share...in the universal mission of the Holy Father.”
Archbishop Tagle will be appointed to the Congregation for Catholic Education upon his elevation. At 55, he will become the world's second youngest cardinal.
“It came as a total surprise to me,” said Archbishop Tagle of the appointment. “But what consoles me is this: The announcement came three days after the canonization of the second Filipino saint, Pedro Calungsod, a young catechist who joined the Jesuit missionaries to Guam and…witnessed to Jesus to the offering of his own life.”
On the recently ended synod, Archbishop Tagle said the new evangelization presents questions not given to easy answers.
“There are many opportunities for spreading the Good News and of the Lord and his salvific presence in our midst,” he said.
“But maybe because some of them are relatively new, we’ve not yet been able to grasp fully the impact of all of these.”
“Some are worried, some are concerned. But we realize, too, that being concerned is OK so long as we don’t jump or are moved to pessimism. We have to affirm our faith that our Lord is risen, he is here, he is very much present, we have to listen to him.”
This complexity “led us in the synod to humility,” he said, adding that the lack of concrete measures by the synod as an opportunity “for exploration.”
“The Holy Father, in his post-synodal exhortation, will give us basic orientations. Now the specific, concrete implementation would have to be done on the local level.”
“The complexity of the situation just merits openness,” and he is glad that there is no need for bishops worldwide to “act similarly, uniformly, disregarding our unique contexts.”
Archbishop Tagle added that he was encouraged by the synod's call to personal conversion among Catholics.
The response to to the word of God “would always entail being renewed in the mind and the heart according to Jesus Christ. This theme struck me as a leitmotif in the whole synod,” said the archbishop.
He is especially hopeful that fellow Filipinos continue to spread the faith wherever they go.
“The presence of overseas Filipino workers in many places across the world is for us an evangelizing moment. And we now feel the responsibility…of giving them initial formation so that when they leave the country they could be equipped to contribute to the life of the Church wherever they are.”
Archbishop Tagle also said looks forward to the Year of Faith – which kicked off on Oct. 11 in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council – as a chance to return to “a living encounter with Christ” and for “a deepening of the knowledge of the content of the faith.”
“Faith is a content, and this is an opportunity to rediscover anew Vatican II's teachings.”