The First Asian Pope?

With the announcement today of Pope Benedict XVI creating a consistory to make new Cardinals – Archbishop Tagle of Manila, Philippines included – it really begs the question… will we have an Asian Pope?

Well, with every new Papal election (hopefully not for a long time. I love Pope Benedict XVI!), we hope for a Pope from the Philippines. Or from Asia. And with Tagle, who is smart, friendly, engaging, and loved by many, it brings our hopes up even more. The Cardinal-elect Tagle will be joining Cardinal-Emeritus Gaudencio Rosales and Cardinal-Emeritus Ricardo Vidal. We have never had more than three Cardinals at the same time.

From Wikipedia:

From To Number of living Cardinals
March 28, 1960
(Rufino Santos elevated to Cardinal)
April 28, 1969
(Julio Rosales elevated to Cardinal)
1 Cardinal
(Cardinal Santos)
April 28, 1969
(Julio Rosales elevated to Cardinal)
September 3, 1973
(Death of Cardinal Santos)
2 Cardinals
(Cardinal Santos & Cardinal J. Rosales)
September 3, 1973
(Death of Cardinal Santos)
May 24, 1976
(Jaime Sin elevated to Cardinal)
1 Cardinal
(Cardinal J. Rosales)
May 24, 1976
(Jaime Sin elevated to Cardinal)
June 2, 1983
(Death of Cardinal J. Rosales)
2 Cardinals
(Cardinal J. Rosales & Cardinal Sin
June 2, 1983
(Death of Cardinal J. Rosales)
May 25, 1985
(Ricardo Vidal elevated to Cardinal)
1 Cardinal
(Cardinal Sin)
May 25, 1985
(Ricardo Vidal elevated to Cardinal)
June 28, 1991
(Jose Sanchez elevated to Cardinal)
2 Cardinals
(Cardinal Sin & Cardinal Vidal)
June 28, 1991
(Jose Sanchez elevated to Cardinal)
June 21, 2005
(Death of Cardinal Sin)
3 Cardinals
(Cardinals Sin, Vidal & Sanchez)
June 21, 2005
(Death of Cardinal Sin)
March 24, 2006
(Gaudencio Rosales elevated to Cardinal)
2 Cardinals
(Cardinal Vidal & Cardinal Sanchez)
March 24, 2006
(Gaudencio Rosales elevated to Cardinal)
March 9, 2012
(Death of Cardinal Sanchez)
3 Cardinals
(Cardinals Vidal, Sanchez & G. Rosales)
March 9, 2012
(Death of Cardinal Sanchez)
Present 2 Cardinals
(Cardinals Vidal & G. Rosales)

I am sure that ArchBishop Soc Villegas and ArchBishop Jose Palma are in the pipeline. We just need to see when that will be. Maybe the Vatican will allow more than 3 Cardinals from the Philippines (especially since 2 are already retired).

But now, will we have the first Asian Pope?

Well, no. St. Peter was the first Pope. And he was from Galilee (in Israel), a part of Asia. So he was the first Asian Pope.

The 11th Pope, Pope Anicetus I (a Saint), was from Syria. He confirmed that Easter be celebrated on a Sunday.

The 73rd Pope, Pope Theodore I, was from Jerusalem. He added the word Sovereign to the word Pope.

The 82nd Pope, Pope John V, was from Antioch (Syria). And so was the 84th Pope, Pope Sergius I (a Saint), who introduced the Agnus Dei in Liturgy.

Pope Sissinus (#87), Pope Constantine (#88) [he started the kissing of the holy foot of the bronze statue of St. Peter waaaay back in the 700s. Imagine how many people have kissed that foot since then…. including me!] and St. Pope Gregory III (#90) [he brought about “Peter’s Pence”] were all from Syria as well.

So there have been 8 Asian Popes. But none since the year 741. And none from outside the Asian Middle East. So if we consider Asia as not including the Middle East, then yes, we have not had an Asian Pope yet.

And that just makes it all the more exciting.

But, let’s not get distracted (we just had to ask, of course). There’s a lot to be done in this era of New Evangelization. And who better to be our Cardinal than Chito Tagle who understands how the Philippine Church can best be one with the whole Church in ushering and leading this New Evangelization 🙂 God bless you, Your Eminence!

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One comment

  1. Hello! Your entries on the different Popes from our long Catholic history is very interesting. Also, may I just add a bit to the question on whether Cardinal-designate Tagle is a “forthcoming”Pope: well, isn’t it imperative for a Pope to speak/read/write comprehensively in at least 5 languages plus Latin? Maybe this would encourage our seminaries to not only teach Latin but to train future priests in the Tradional Latin Mass. Just a thought!

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