Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle celebrated his 60th birthday on Wednesday, recalling his priestly journey and the “ordeals” when he’s off travelling.
Tagle, who holds several posts at the Vatican, is probably one of the world’s most travelled cardinals.
He is often outside the country visiting disaster areas or conflict zones as he serves as the president of Caritas Internationalis, a global federation of Catholic charities.
During his past interviews, Tagle became emotional whenever he spoke about airports being a traumatic place for him because he associate it with overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) forced to leave their families behind to find greener pastures abroad.
“You know the airport has become a traumatic place for me. Not because of my travels and the dangers, but to see and hear, especially mothers talking to their children at the airport, bidding them goodbye. And you could see how their hearts are broken,” he said in a previous interview.
Speaking during his thanksgiving mass at the Manila Cathedral on Wednesday, the cardinal narrated parts of the birthday letter he received from her mother, Milagros.
In the letter, the mother recalled how she gave birth to Tagle six decades ago as an “overdue” baby.
“‘You did not want to get out.’ That was her expression. I didn’t want to face the world,” Tagle said laughing. “And now look at me, I’m always being thrown out… go there, go there.”
“And to tell you the truth when I read the letter I said no wonder every time I have to travel I suffer. I really don’t want to go, it’s an ordeal. It’s the womb again,” he said.
“Why would I choose to go to refugee camps? Why would I choose to go to Beirut, to Ukraine? It’s not a journey done in a solitary manner,” Tagle said.
“But you go, you go! This time it’s no longer the mother pushing you but maybe the womb of the Church, the spirit pushing you,” he said.
In his homily, Tagle also lashed out at the hypocrisy of some people who promote themselves under the guise of “charity.”
“God loves a cheerful giver. Giving not only externally, but how about the heart? Is it cheerful? Sometimes the physical action does not match the inner disposition. Externally we do good work, praying, almsgiving, fasting, but Jesus says check your heart….He proposes doing all of these things in secret, in invisibility. He does not tell us to stop praying, giving alms or fasting but he is saying do it in invisibility, meaning do it from the heart,” Tagle said.
The thanksgiving mass was attended by members of the clergy, his family including his parents Manuel and Milagros and brother Manuel Jr., friends and parishioners.
Former President Benigno Aquino III also came with his sisters Maria Elena Aquino Cruz and Victoria Elisa Aquino Dee to greet Tagle.
The mass was followed by a lunch at the Arzobispado de Manila. JE