Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, tested positive for COVID-19, the Vatican announced on Sept. 11.
Matteo Bruni, director of the Vatican Press Office, said the former archbishop of Manila tested positive of the disease upon his arrival in Manila.
“Cardinal Tagle actually tested positive of COVID-19 with a pharyngeal swab carried out yesterday (Thursday) on his arrival in Manila,” said Bruni in a brief statement to reporters in Rome.
He said the cardinal “does not have any symptoms and will remain in mandatory self-quarantine in the Philippines, where he is located.”
“In the meantime, necessary checks are being carried out among those who have come into contact with His Eminence in recent days,” said Bruni.
He said Cardinal Tagle has undergone a swab test in Rome on Sept. 7, which turned out negative.
Bruni said the COVID-19 swab test that yielded a positive result was conducted in Manila on Sept. 10.
Necessary checks are being carried out on those who have come into contact with the cardinal in the past few days, said a report in the news site of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.
Cardinal Tagle has been staying at the Pontificio Collegio Filippino since his arrival in Rome in February.
The cardinal was in the city of Turin early this week to take part in the episcopal ordination of the new Apostolic Nuncio for Mongolia, Father Giorgio Marengo.
On Sept. 8, he led an online recollection for Filipino COVID-19 frontliners organized by Caritas Philippines and the Cebu-based Dilaab Foundation.
Aside from being Prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, Cardinal Tagle is also president of Caritas Internationalis, the federation of Catholic charities worldwide.
He is the first head of a Vatican dicastery who is infected with COVID-19.
In May, Pope Francis promoted Cardinal Tagle, former archbishop of Manila, to the rank of cardinal bishop, the highest title of a cardinal in the Catholic Church.
A Vatican announcement on May 1 said the pope “decided to co-opt in the Order of Bishops” Cardinal Tagle, awarding him the title of a “suburbicarian Church.”
A “suburbicarian church” is a church located in the vicinity of Rome with a cardinal bishop as titular prelate.
Cardinal Tagle, 62, joined the ranks of 13 other cardinal bishops — 10 of them are from the Latin Church and three cardinal patriarchs from the Oriental Rites.
The Filipino cardinal left the Archdiocese of Manila on Feb. 9 to assume his post at the Vatican as Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, also known as Propaganda Fide.
The assignment is an important position in the Vatican as it takes care of the mission in territories mostly in Asia and Africa.
The congregation was established nearly 400 years ago in 1622 by Pope Gregory XV with the task of ensuring the “transmission and dissemination of the faith throughout the whole world.”
As head of the office, Cardinal Tagle oversees the work of most dioceses in Asia, Africa and Oceania, in which one third of the Catholic Church’s 4,000 dioceses are found.
This is a developing story. Watch out for more updates.