Rome — Philippine Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila was elected president of Caritas Internationalis, the confederation of 165 national Catholic charities, during the organization's general assembly in Rome. The 57-year-old cardinal, who was in Chicago receiving an honorary doctorate from Catholic Theological Union, accepted the election and addressed delegates by telephone immediately after the voting May 14.
Tagle told delegates that although he has his limits, "with all of you, with the love that Jesus has poured into our hearts and in the name of all of the poor people in the world, I accept this election." "Let us together strengthen the church of the poor so our witness can help guide us to a world of understanding, justice, true freedom and peace," he said.
Chairman of Caritas Manila, the cardinal is the first Caritas Internationalis president to be elected from Asia. He succeeds Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa, who had served the maximum two four-year terms. Carolyn Woo, CEO and president of Catholic Relief Services, the U.S. bishops' overseas and relief agency, praised the election. Both CRS and Catholic Charities USA are members of Caritas Internationalis.
Recalling a meeting with Cardinal Tagle after the 2013 typhoon Haiyan, Woo said, "he spoke not only with words on the tragedy, but with deep pastoral love and emotion for the people of the church. In the midst of destruction, he reminded us that what the people needed was not pity or handouts, but our solidarity as one family.
"The presence of God clearly came through in his deep love for people, his gentleness and the sense of hope," she said, adding that he is "caritas exemplified."