Cardinal Tagle: Evangelization isn’t complicated, it’s ‘a conversation about Jesus’

Courtney Mares   By Courtney Mares for CNA


Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle speaks at a Vatican press conference presenting the 2021 World Mission Day, Oct. 21, 2021. / Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

Vatican City, Feb 19, 2022 / 12:15 pm (CNA).

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle has encouraged people not to be intimidated by the concept of “evangelization,” but to remember that it can be a simple human interaction or conversation among friends, family, coworkers, or social media followers.

“Sometimes we make things very complicated – ‘evangelization.’ It is a conversation. It is a conversation about Jesus,” Tagle said Saturday night in his closing remarks for the Vatican’s priesthood conference.

“Simple human interaction or conversation centered on the Word of Life that fosters unity, I think needs to be encouraged in our time, especially in families, schools, workplaces, recreation centers, hospitals, social media, during coffee break, and simple gatherings of friends,” he said.

Tagle, the prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, was asked to give the closing speech on Feb. 19 for a three-day Vatican conference on the theology of the priesthood.

Pope Francis opened the conference on Thursday with a reflection on his more than 52 years of priesthood.

Cardinal Tagle speaks at the Vatican conference on the theology of the priesthood on Feb. 19, 2022. Screenshot from YouTube
Cardinal Tagle speaks at the Vatican conference on the theology of the priesthood on Feb. 19, 2022. Screenshot from YouTube

In a very animated speech, Tagle said that “mission forms community, which in turn becomes the flame that fires up other missionaries.”

The cardinal shared that one of the youth delegates at the 2018 Synod of Bishops on young people had told him that her friends’ experience of the Church was of priests who were “angry, impatient, unapproachable” and who “criticize persons during homilies and talk always about rules.”

Tagle added that hearing testimonies like this prompted him to reflect on joy in the lives of the baptized.

“There are many reasons why we feel tired, empty and joyless. But I asked myself: Is it possible that one reason for the loss of joy in a baptized person or a minister of the church is the lack or weakening of the sense of mission?” he said.

“Without a commitment to mission, the priesthood of the baptized or consecrated life and the ministerial priesthood are deprived of joy. Why? Because the priesthood of Christ is intrinsically linked to his mission.”

Tagle’s speech marked the end of the live-streamed summit “For a Fundamental Theology of the Priesthood,” which took place Feb. 17-19 in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall. The symposium was first announced in April 2021.

Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Bishops, organized the meeting together with the France-based Research and Anthropology Center for Vocations.

The third and final day of the conference was dedicated to “Celibacy, charisms, and spirituality.”

“The priesthood of Jesus is completely missionary and continues to be so for He intercedes eternally for his brothers and sisters before the Father in the heavenly sanctuary,” Tagle said.

“Jesus’ priesthood is a wholly missionary life. Remove mission, there will be no joy, no joy, in those who share in the priesthood of Christ in baptism, in other states of life, and in the ministerial priesthood.”

Tagle reflected on Jesus’ words in the Gospel of John: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”

“The ones Jesus loves are the ones he sends,” Tagle noted. “Dangerous love. The more he loves you, the more he sends you.”

The 64-year-old cardinal from the Philippines said that being called to “belong to Jesus and share in his mission” is not a matter of “creating or promoting one’s own project, but of participating in God’s salvific plan in the missions of Jesus and the Holy Spirit.”

“It is the joy, not of inventing one’s message, but of proclaiming what one has heard, seen, looked upon and touched of the word of life. It is the joy, not of boasting of one’s knowledge of the Lord, but of humbly being led by the Holy Spirit’s testimony to Jesus,” he said.

“It is the joy, not of being obsessed with achievements, degrees – ‘Oh, I have a doctorate, you only a master’s degree. I deserve the cathedral. You deserve a village parish.’ – That’s not joy. It’s obsession with achievements.”

“It is the joy of gratitude to Him who makes weak and sinful disciples strong by His grace. We wish every baptized Christian would experience the joy of being a disciple missionary,” he said.

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  1. All well and good. We even read: “It is the joy, not of inventing one’s message, but of proclaiming what one has heard, seen, looked upon and touched of the word of life.”

    But, then, apart from theology and revelation, there’s also the non-demonstrable first principle of non-contradiction. About which:

    “On the one hand, he railed against a Filipino ‘Reproductive Health’ bill, albeit less strongly than some of his fellow bishops, that introduced anti-family and antilife policies, and he has spoken strongly against abortion and euthanasia. On the other hand, he holds that some situations exist where universal moral principles do not apply, as in the case of Communion for couples who live together conjugally but without sacramental marriage and issues relating to homosexuality. He opposes ‘harsh’ or ‘severe’ language when describing certain sins and believes the Church needs to ‘learn over’ its teaching of mercy due in part to the ‘shifts in cultural and social sensibilities.’ In short, he downplays the gravity of such sins and the public scandal they give” (“The Next Pope: the Leading Cardinal Candidates,” edited by Edward Pentin, Tagle summary, p. 584, partly citing:

    This reader simply notes the ambiguities (inventive contradictions?) between “shifts in cultural and social sensibilities” as compared to Pope St. John Paul II’s “Veritatis Splendor” (1993):

    “This is the first time, in fact, that the Magisterium of the Church [!] has set forth in detail the fundamental elements of this teaching [“Christian moral teaching,” n. 114; etc.], and presented the principles for the pastoral discernment necessary in practical and cultural situations which are complex and even crucial” (n. 115).

    For example: “Each of us can see the seriousness of what is involved, not only for individuals but also for the whole of society, with the REAFFIRMATION OF THE UNIVERSALITY AND IMMUTABILITY OF THE MORAL COMMANDMENTS [italics in the original], particularly those which prohibit always and without exception [!] INTRINSICALLY EVIL ACTS [italics, n. 115].

  2. Cardinal Tagle is frequently ridiculed for his dance step when entering a festival, or the procession at Mass. Filipinos have an ancient tradition of celebrating Portugal’s spiritual investment of the Santo Nino with their Sinulog chant and dance. Fine. It’s a beautiful tradition.
    What matters is documented by Edward Pentin in his NCReg the Cardinal is in line ideologically with the transition underway promoted by Pope Francis [appointments say it all] of loosening the traditional doctrine on homosexuality. As is wont for the new paradigm papacy candidates as well as Francis’ favoritti there is the unmistakable softening approach on all vital Catholic doctrine. View the list of appointees, Kevin Farrell, James Martin SJ, Scicluna, Hollerich, Cupich on and on. We dare not see a Cordileone, Weinandy, Olmstead, Aquilla, Naumann et al appointed to high position. If the papal tolerance [letters of admonition absent of action are for show not truth] of the German Way [Waywardness better] means anything it’s a tableau for the Great worldwide infinite Synod on synodality Journey into Darkness [to borrow the title of book by John E Douglas FBI profiler on serial murderers ]. In this instance the dilemma is the serial secularist.

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