Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle has become a sudden and unlikely star during Pope Francis’ visit to the Philippines. The pope began his Philippines tour on Thursday, and as the archbishop received the pontiff in Manila and exchanged hugs, locals took to creating memes and drawing comparisons of the two on Twitter, Instagram and other social media sites.
— Jokes at iba pa (@DYOWKS) January 15, 2015
“Pope Francis hugged Cardinal Tagle upon seeing him at the tarmac, just as it is depicted in the Papal Visit Stamps issued by PHLPost,” posted Instagram user erictagle, referring to the special set of stamps the Philippines postal service issued featuring the two prelates.
"He became the darling of the masses," said Cynthia Campos of the Catholic group Couples for Christ, adding that she could not help comparing Tagle with Francis, according to the Huffington Post. "He has this personal touch, presence or aura that allows him to connect with the young and the elderly, the rich and the poor."
Many of his fellow Filipinos are now hoping that Tagle might become pope one day. "That'll be good for all of us," Rita Asibar, 53, who lives with her three children in a Manila garbage dump, told the Huffington Post. "Our prayers can easily reach God." Some have reflected this sentiment on Twitter, too.
CNN: Philippines Cardinal on Islam, Asia ahead of Pope visit http://t.co/7UzHVBPMy7 *Will the next Pope come from PH? :)
— Grellyn A. Paoad (@grellynpaoad) January 15, 2015
Luis Antonio Tagle was born in 1957 and is the 32nd archbishop of Manila. His modest demeanor and down-to-earth persona have won him fans among his country's 80 million Catholics. Pope Benedict XVI appointed him archbishop in 2011 and made him a cardinal in 2012. He is well known for preferring minibuses, known as “jeepneys” in the country, and public transportation over private cars.
"I am not supposed to be the focus of the apostolic trip to the Philippines. Jesus should be the focus," Tagle told CNN what Francis had told him earlier. "He doesn't want his humility extolled," his spokeswoman Peachy Yamsuan said, according to the Huffington Post.