Pope Benedict XVI has added Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle and five other prelates to the ranks of cardinals who will elect his successor.
Benedict made the surprise announcement during his weekly general audience in the Vatican Wednesday and said the new cardinals would be elevated at a consistory on Nov. 24.
Aside from Tagle, the other new cardinals are Msgr. James Harvey, the American prefect of the Pope’s household; Archbishop of Abuja, Nigeria, John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan; Archbishop of Bogota, Colombia, Ruben Salazar Gomez; Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites in Lebanon Bechara Boutros Rai; and the Major Archbishop of the Trivandrum of the Siro-Malankaresi in India Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal.
Tagle becomes the Philippines’ seventh cardinal, following Cardinals Gaudencio Rosales, Jose Sanchez, Ricardo Vidal, Jaime Sin, Julio Rosales and Rufino Santos.
Tagle, 55, is currently in Rome for the synod of bishops on the new evangelization.
While his fellow Filipino bishops did not vote for Tagle as one of their representatives to the synod, the Pope named him a member of the gathering and even appointed him vice president of the commission that will craft its final message.
Tagle and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas have caught the attention of international Vatican watchers for their pleas at the synod for a new evangelization for the Church to be humble if it were to win new converts.
Writing on the National Catholic Reporter website, renowned senior CNN Vatican analyst John Allen Jr. said the interventions of Tagle and Villegas on Oct. 8 were at that time among the “most compact as well as the most distinctive” among those made by Church leaders attending the synod.