The Gift of Mission: Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle

Maryknoll Magazine shares an interview with Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle.

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, of the Philippines, serves as prefect for the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and president of Caritas Internationalis. He is the author of three Orbis books: The Risk of Hope, I Have Learned from the Least and Easter People. A long-time friend of Maryknoll, he recently visited Maryknoll headquarters in Ossining, New York, to preside at the ordination of our newest Maryknoll priest. Our staff writer Giovana Soria had the opportunity to talk with him about mission, global issues and his hopes for the future. Here we share excerpts of that interview. A longer version can be found separately here.

Mission: The love of God

For the Church in mission, the global reality is not like an extracurricular activity, it is not an appendix. It is part and parcel of our identity as a universal Catholic Church where universal love is operating, where through the presence of people from different countries, then we know that the love of God in Jesus is universal. You find a brother, a sister in everyone, especially in the poor. … This communion of humanity, the communion of creation in Jesus and the presence of missionaries from different parts of the world in different territories, in different contexts, and living in community is a living Gospel.

Divisiveness versus the Gospel of fraternity

As we talk about globalization, as we talk about communion, as Pope Francis talks about universal friendship, Fratelli Tutti and caring for our common home, we see a lot of divisiveness in the world. We see a lot of suspicion of the others. We see a lot of fear towards the others, leading even to violent acts which makes us sad, but at the same time, it is an opportunity to affirm the Gospel of love and universal fraternity, brotherhood and friendship. 

For us in the Church to be also vigilant because this divisiveness along ethnic lines, along even tribal linguistic lines, racial lines, what we see in the world has its consequences and has a presence even within the Church. There is a missionary consequence. If the Christian community cannot embrace, the members could not embrace each other as brothers and sisters, the non-Christians looking at them would say, “What Gospel is that?” Communion within the community of Christians is not just for smooth relationships. It has a missionary value.

Vocation: Finding our gift

Whether a priest or a layperson, each one has a unique process in determining what gift has God given to him or her. A vocation is a response to that gift. What I would like to tell young people especially is not to be afraid to engage in the process of finding out that gift. … There is no recipe that would fit everyone because everyone is called in a unique way. I would tell people not to be afraid to engage in that discernment, to trust the Word of God, listen to the Word of God and see in the Word of God the wisdom that would clarify for each one, “What might be going on in me?”

Migrant ministry brings hope

The ministry to migrants especially by the Church and the social and charity organizations of the Church is the great bringer of hope to those people who are uprooted and feel lost in a foreign land. When they see that there are individuals and communities who really care for them and who will not leave them alone, then their pain is transformed into strength. … If they are made to feel that they are human beings respected and given the opportunities to bloom, they become an asset to the receiving country. They provide workforce, they provide quality work because they are accepted and they also are able to help their families back home. The migrant workers could become the human bridge between two countries or more countries and cultures.

Poverty and learning from the little ones

I always try to learn from the little ones. Even if I can’t contribute to them, I can teach, but I should be a student of the little ones because they have a wisdom that academics don’t have. They know what hope is from their suffering. They know what love is in sharing in their poverty, in their want. They know what faith is even when it’s so difficult to say, “Our Father, give us this day our daily bread” because they know there will be no bread. But they know there is faith, they know by faith what that means. We have to learn from them. … 

We should really work so that the basic human necessities that every human being deserves must be given to them not just as promises. I think that’s part of our service to them, not just to say in words that they are dignified but to take action and even to propose some changes in mentalities, in policies, in the economy that keep the poor poor. That’s part of the affirmation of their dignity. 

Peace: Solidarity with all people

We express our solidarity with all the people suffering in conflict situations, and the most traumatic one right (now) is in Ukraine. But there are conflicts raging right now in the world and some of them have been forgotten. … It seems that the violence has become worse. … 

When will humanity learn? Why do we keep repeating the same fault and mistake?

 

 

(A longer version can be found separately here.)

Featured image: Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, delivers the homily during the priestly ordination of Maryknoll Father John Siyumbu at the Maryknoll Society Center in Ossining, New York, June 3, 2022. (CNS photo, Gregory A. Shemitz/U.S.)

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About the author

Giovana Soria

Was born and raised in Lima, Peru. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Communication Science/Journalism from the University of San Martín de Porres in Lima. As staff writer, she writes and translates articles for Maryknoll magazine and Misioneros, our Spanish-language publication. Her articles have also appeared in the bilingual magazine ¡OYE! for Hispanic Catholic youth. Her work has received awards from the Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada. She lives in Rockland County, New York.