Filipino Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, 65, is thought to be one of the frontrunners to succeed Pope Francis, a move which would radically change the face of the Catholic faith.
London-based news outlet the Catholic Herald published on Aug. 5 that whoever becomes pope next will speak volumes about the future of the Church.
According to the article, some of the leading contenders include Hungary’s “conservative canon law expert” Cardinal Péter Erdő, 70, and the Philippines’ Cardinal Tagle, who has been “hailed by liberals” as a progressive symbol for the changing demographic of the Church.
The article noted that Tagle’s anointment would also indicate that Pope Francis’ “liberal direction” would continue to last.
“A contest between Erdő and Tagle would show a Church at a crossroads,” reads the piece, “not just between conservatives and liberals, but between the forces of traditionalism in Europe — the original heart of Catholicism — and the changing face of the faith, focused more in the developing world, yet still largely conservative in outlook, not least on LGBT issues.”
“If symbolism matters, then Erdő vs. Tagle would be a contest not just of ideas but of perception and identity,” Catholic Herald concluded.
Tagle left his local Manila post in 2019 after the pope brought him to Vatican City to lead the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.
Just one year later, Tagle was promoted to cardinal-bishop, which is the highest ranking in the Catholic Church’s College of Cardinals.
The Philippines native’s most recent post has been as a member of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, which he was given last June.
At the end of June, Newsweek reported that a Black or Asian Pope was favored to succeed Francis, 85, if he were to resign, the possibility of which has been speculated due to his knee pains and canceling of trips.
The article stated that the likely favorites were Tagle and Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Turkson.
It is unclear whether Pope Francis plans to announce his retirement, which would make him the second consecutive pope to resign voluntarily; however, it is certain that whoever is chosen to be next in line could make a tremendous impact on the faith, which boasts an impressive 1.3 billion followers around the globe.