Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, is shown in a 2019 file photo. Cardinal Tagle virtually delivered the annual Trócaire / St. Patrick’s College fasting lecture March 9, 2021. (CNS photo / Eloisa Lopez, Reuters)
March 10, 2021
Sarah Mac Donald
Catholic intelligence service
DUBLIN – Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, leader of the Vatican Evangelizing Church, has expressed concern over the “kidnapping” of religion by populist leaders who are sowing division and taking advantage of the anger of those who feel excluded.
Speaking after giving the 2021 Trócaire / St. Patrick’s College Maynooth, annual fasting lecture on March 9th on “Caring for the Human Family and Our Common Home,” the Filipino prelate warned, “In today’s world, the sense of division, and growing unfortunately religion is sometimes used to further divide Even within the same religious affiliation there are divisions. “
Referring to the recent rise of populist leaders, Cardinal Tagle described the phenomenon as “the return of powerful big bosses,” some of whom are “hijacking religion”.
These so-called populist leaders know where the pockets of angry people are and they present themselves as the messiah, he said. They use religion as a “convenient way” to find followers, he added.
The President of Caritas Internationalis noted that in the encyclical “Fratelli Tutti” Pope Francis devoted several paragraphs to the question of populist leaders who claim that they are defending the people when in fact they are defending a certain group.
Speaking of Zoom from Rome, the cardinal stressed, “We must carefully examine why these leaders are getting followers. Why are they becoming popular?”
He suggested that the pandemic could exacerbate the marginalization of people such as the poor and migrants, and that is why Caritas Internationalis had issued two documents calling for better access to COVID-19 vaccines for the global south.
“I hope this pandemic will teach us the lesson that we are truly connected to one another and to the earth and that what happens in one part of the world can have a universal impact. I hope that we will grow accountable to others become.” he said.
Cardinal Tagle, a close associate of Pope Francis, said that while the pandemic could limit the practice of the faith, it could also “lead to pastoral creativity, especially within families”.
Speaking to the Catholic intelligence service, the Filipino prelate realized that the pandemic had caused “a lot of suffering”.
The Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples admitted: “For us in the Church it is part of the suffering of wanting to provide pastoral help and pastoral guidance, but we cannot do it as we are used to.”
However, it set the pandemic restrictions on worship related to the suffering of Christians who were excluded from the practice of their faith. He said he was inspired by Japan’s “hidden Christians”.
Cardinal Tagle recalled how they had kept their faith alive for 200 years and highlighted how Japan outlawed Christianity in the 17th century. When it reopened its doors to Christianity in the 19th century, the French missionaries who went to Nagasaki were surprised to discover Christians who had survived all those years without church structures.
“Amidst constraints, it is the families, the lay people, especially the mothers and grandmothers, who have passed the faith on. They have been creative,” said the cardinal.
He acknowledged that the pandemic had disrupted congregational life and the usual way of church services and catechetical education due to the restricted mobility, and said this provided an opportunity to identify those aspects of Christian life and church life which we “disregarded” adequately, “including” the role of the family in teaching the faith and forming families in the social doctrines of the Church. “
“In the past, the transmission of the faith, the teaching of prayer and the catechism happened in the home. It was the parents or grandparents who did it.” However, with the development of specialized ministries such as religious education and catechists, this had declined.
“With the lockdown, children could not be brought to Sunday school, and catechists and teachers could not do their usual work. Are parents able to establish their families, children, grandchildren and one another in faith and mission?” he asked.
“I think the pandemic has opened up opportunities for us, but it has also become a mirror that shows us where we have been weak in terms of Christian education.”
“This pandemic has led many churches and dioceses to rethink our usual ways of mission and pastoral engagement. Even here at the Vatican we are invited to reflect on what we call” normal “common ways to see how we can respond more appropriately to the changing situation. “The mission doesn’t stop, he said, and the question is,” How do we do this in a changed situation? “
Cardinal Tagle said his reflection on Lent in Trócaire was an attempt to bring together the themes of Pope Francis’ encyclicals “Laudato Si” on concern for our common home and “Fratelli Tutti”, the call for universal social friendship.
“We see a close connection between the two encyclicals,” said the cardinal, noting Pope Francis’ warning that “the deterioration in the ecology of our common home goes hand in hand with the deterioration in human relations. Disregard for people is also manifested in our disregard our common home, which is God’s gift to us all. “
He pointed out that many economic or political decisions are affecting the survival of the earth today. “The irresponsible use of creation now not only prevents the passing on of a livable, habitable world to future generations, but also violates a key element of church social teaching, namely that the goods of the earth are for everyone and must be shared by everyone.”