Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila left the Philippines, Feb.9, to assume his “new mission” at the Vatican.
“Tonight, I say goodbye,” he wrote in a message posted on social media. “Work starts for me this week at the Congregation,” he added.
Pope Francis named Cardinal Tagle prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, also known as Propaganda Fide, in December last year.
The Congregation oversees the Church’s work in most of the dioceses in Africa, Asia and Oceania, which is around one-third of the world’s 4,000 dioceses.
Cardinal Tagle is only the second Asian to be the prefect of Propaganda Fide, with the other being Indian Cardinal Ivan Dias who served from 2006 to 2011.
“It was an honor and blessing to have known you and have collaborated with you. I will always treasure my time with you,” he said in a message to the faithful.
“You can count on my prayers. Please pray for me and my mission as well …. Stay well and joyful!” he added.
He called on the people of Manila to be patient “as we continue our life as an archdiocese and await the next archbishop.”
Earlier in the day, Cardinal Tagle led the celebration of his last Mass as archbishop of Manila at the Manila Cathedral.
As part of tradition, the prelate’s coat of arms, which was set on marble under the central nave of the church, was unveiled.
Father Reginald Malicdem, rector of the Manila Cathedral, said it has been a tradition that when an archbishop of Manila ends his term, his coat of arms is placed on marble.
“This is a sign that you continue to be a clergy of the Archdiocese of Manila. You still belong to us,” Father Malicdem told the cardinal.
“And this is an assurance that you always have a home with us in the cathedral,” he said. “The doors of the cathedral are always open for you.”
Cardinal Tagle is the 32nd archbishop in the 441 years of the Manila Archdiocese.
With Cardinal Tagle’s departure, Pope Francis has appointed Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo apostolic administrator.
The bishop will temporarily oversee the affairs of the archdiocese until a new bishop is appointed by the pope. The 64-year-old Bishop Pabillo has been serving as auxiliary bishop of Manila since May 2006.