Cardinal Tagle, considered a possible successor to the pope, turns 60

Noel Celis | AFP

Filipinos celebrate birthday with annual blood drive.

On June 21, Manila’s cardinal archbishop, Luis Antonio Tagle, turns 60.

Following an annual tradition that dates back at least to the previous archbishop, the employees of the Manila Archdiocese celebrated the cardinal’s special day with a blood drive.

“I think the best gift is to help save or extend somebody’s life,” Father Sanny de Claro, director of the Manila Archdiocese’s Human Resource Development Department, told UCANews, noting that those who stand to benefit most from the campaign are the poor.

“Through this, we also want to show the cardinal that we treasure life,” Father de Claro added.

Tagle was born in Imus, Philippines, in 1957. He was ordained a priest at age 24, and a bishop of his native diocese at age 44. Ten years later, in 2011, he was named the archbishop of Manila, succeeding Gaudencio Borbon Rosales, who retired.

He was created a cardinal by Benedict XVI in 2012.

A charismatic and popular prelate, already in the 2013 conclave Cardinal Tagle was often on the lists of papabile, that is, he was considered a possible contender for the role of pope.

Given his youth, people now wonder if he will be a contender even when the next conclave rolls around, upon Pope Francis’ death or retirement.

Benedict XVI was elected pope three days after his 78th birthday. Pope Francis was 76 when the cardinals chose him as the next Successor of Peter. John Paul II, meanwhile, was a lively 58.

The Archdiocese of Manila has more than 3 million Catholics, according to 2014 statistics. Meanwhile, it has about 640 priests (both diocesan and religious), such that there are about 4,700 Catholics for every priest. By means of comparison, the Archdiocese of New York has about 2.6 million Catholics and some 1,500 priests, meaning there are about 1,700 Catholics per priest.

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