Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales leads the rite of the closing of the Jubilee Door of Manila Cathedral on Nov. 13, 2016. (Photo: Angie de Silva)
A Filipino cardinal led a recitation of the Rosary on national television at his retirement home in Lipa City in Batangas, south of Manila, on the Sept. 8 feast of Mary’s nativity.
In his “Healing Rosary for the World” recitation, Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales said he offered the Rosary for a world plagued by coronavirus yet with people who remained steadfast in their faith.
“This evening we pray the Rosary. The most popular Catholic prayer to the Blessed Mother and to her Son, Jesus. This evening we will revisit the mysteries of Jesus’ life, the teaching of Jesus’ life in our own words using Mary’s heart. And so we come to Jesus and Mary and pray,” said Cardinal Rosales.
Cardinal Rosales, 88, succeeded church and political figure Cardinal Jaime Sin in 2003 as archbishop of Manila.
In 2011, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, now prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, succeeded him as Manila’s top prelate.
In reflecting on the sorrowful mysteries, Cardinal Rosales said that, like Jesus, the world was undergoing suffering yet Catholics must never forget to pray.
“This is how Jesus began his passion. He prayed to the Father at Gethsemane. Is it possible for all his sorrows and sufferings to go away? Was he bargaining with the Father? Was he going to withdraw from the Father’s plan?” asked Cardinal Rosales.
The prelate also said it was not Jesus’ wish but the Father’s plan that was fulfilled. The pandemic has struck mankind the same way Roman soldiers beat Jesus during his passion, he said.
“In your [Jesus’] passion, real blows struck you. We too are being struck by an unseen enemy that has claimed the lives of many. Despite all these sufferings, we never lose hope. Pain and death are not the end,” Cardinal Rosales added.
In his final reflection, Cardinal Rosales said all difficulties the pandemic had brought — poverty, unemployment and death — were no match for God’s glory.
“No matter what we experience in this life, there is an end to suffering. This curtain will fall. In death, all pains disappear. It may look like darkness may triumph … but God is more powerful than death. You [Jesus] even taught us to expect it … Your wisdom tells us not to be afraid,” he said.
During his term as archbishop of Manila, Cardinal Rosales condemned politicians’ “selfish agenda” in an attempt to amend the constitution.
“Our leaders must bear in mind that they are chosen and elected by the people. It is therefore their duty to carry out the will of the people, not their own political agenda,” he said in a 2005 statement.
In 2008, Cardinal Rosales was criticized by LGBTQ+ groups after issuing a strong warning against Manila parishes that permitted cross-dressing homosexuals to play Santacruzan, a religious ritual pageant commemorating the search for the cross where Jesus was crucified by Emperor Constantine’s mother, St. Helena.
In 2010, he issued a pastoral letter condemning abortion and imposed excommunication to those found guilty under canon law.
“A deliberately procured abortion is a moral evil and the Catholic Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication on those who procure it and on those who help obtain abortion", he said.