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Wait for new Manila archbishop 'will soon be over'

Papal nuncio has Catholics guessing by saying announcement ending year-long wait is imminent

Wait for new Manila archbishop 'will soon be over'

Papal nuncio Archbishop Charles John Brown celebrates Mass in Manila on Feb. 24 to mark the 35th anniversary of the People Power Revolution that deposed dictator Ferdinand Marcos. (Photo: Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines)

The apostolic nuncio to the Philippines announced on Feb. 25 that Pope Francis would soon name the next Manila archbishop to fill the post made vacant by Cardinal Luis Tagle more than a year ago.

Cardinal Tagle left for Rome at the start of 2020 to become dean of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

To fill the void, Pope Francis made Bishop Broderick Pabillo Manila’s apostolic administrator pending the appointment of a new archbishop.

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After more than a year, the papal envoy to the Philippines said the wait will soon be over.

“I do not think the waiting will go on much longer. The appointment of a new papal nuncio makes the process [of naming the new archbishop] much faster,” Archbishop Charles John Brown said in an interview on national television.

The nuncio also said that the Philippines’ largest archdiocese — with 3 million Catholics in more than 80 parishes — was in need of a shepherd.

“Given the numbers of Catholics … I think it will not take too long for Cardinal Tagle’s successor to be appointed here in Manila,” he added.

His comments triggered excitement among clergymen and churchgoers.

Manila Cathedral has released a prayer in anticipation of the appointment of its new archbishop.

“Send us a good, holy, learned and wise man to become our next archbishop. Inspire us, the clergy, religious and the laity to work generously with him so that we might grow together in your love,” it read.

The prayer is to be recited during Masses in the archdiocese.

Churchgoers have been speculating who the next archbishop will be ever since Cardinal Tagle left.

“I think it should be Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan or Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Kalookan. Both are brave pastors who have openly denounced [President Rodrigo] Duterte’s extrajudicial killings. We need a brave archbishop like the late Cardinal Jaime Sin,” Manila resident Aldrin Sebastian told UCA News.

He said being archbishop of Manila is more than being a church official because the office has a sociopolitical dimension.

“The archbishop has a higher calling than just being a shepherd for the poor and the oppressed because his seat is so powerful that government leaders listen to him,” Sebastian said.

Some people believed a “quieter” archbishop was needed.

“What we need is an archbishop who will bring healing and unity between the government and the people. We need someone who is diplomatic and can mend fences,” another resident, Christine San Gabriel, said.

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