This is Cardinal Tagle's First Public Appearance as Prefect of Propaganda Fide
by Margaux Salcedo
On Valentine's Day, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle made his first public appearance as Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples or Propaganda Fide to launch of I Bambini Sono Speranza (Children are Hope), the latest children's book of Pope Francis.
With the Cardinal Prefect was Father Antonio Spadaro, director of “La Civiltà Cattolica” magazine, who selected the brief and simple texts by Pope Francis used in the book, which in turn were illustrated by Sheree Boyd, the same artist who illustrated the Pope’s “Dear Pope Francis” book for children published in English in 2016. The launch was touchingly held at the Bambino Gesu Children’s Hospital, the historic Catholic hospital for children in the city of Rome, with their president Mariella Enoc.
Cardinal Tagle presented the book not only to the press but to students of the Istituto Comprensivo Virgilio in Rome, accompanied by their principal, Rosa Vocaturo. Pope Francis' Latest Children's Book
Cardinal Tagle was the top representative of the Vatican at the launch and introduced the book, which he called "a breath of fresh air" as he noted that it is "full of images of joy, energy and life". The Pope speaks directly to children through this book through simple texts that encourage sharing, acceptance and love.
On the very first page, Pope Francis writes, “When I see a child like you, I feel so much hope in my heart” and next to that message is a mirror in which the child/the reader sees his or her own reflection. Cardinal Tagle noted that the Pope "chose simple words that invite children to be generous, to not be afraid to cry, to do good in life, to smile and to dance for joy." This simplicity can apply to adults as well: “Life has become so complicated! Worse, human relationships have become so complicated! ... My heart screams for this simplicity, seen in a book illustrated with images of bright and luminous colors,” Tagle said.
Children are the Future
The children were given a chance to ask questions.
They asked His Eminence and Fr Spadaro challenging ones such as, "What is hope to you adults?" and "How do you pass on hope to children?"
The amused and impressed Cardinal responded, "I seem to have returned to the day of the doctoral thesis! These are simple but profound questions that examine the conscience, not only intelligence!" Nevertheless, he gave the children this reply: "When we talk about hope, we look to the future. Looking at you, I see the future of the world and of the Church."
"You are the future that grows. Where there are no children, there is no future," Cardinal Tagle said to the children.
He also underscored the lessons imparted by Pope Francis in the book such as "You and I can make the Earth a more beautiful place” and “The best way to win a conflict is not to start it.”
Imus and Nanay
The Cardinal made a special shout out to his mother and his hometown, sharing that the book reminds him of his own childhood in Imus, Cavite. He recalled how they had no television set so his mother ("Nanay"), Milagros Gokim Tagle, would read simple books to the children every evening.
"I'm Sleepy!" At the press conference, a smiling Cardinal Tagle confessed to reporters: “I’ve just arrived here in Rome and I’m sleepy!” Cardinal Tagle left the Philippines only on Sunday, February 9, after officiating his last mass as Archbishop of Manila on the same day. He arrived in Rome on Monday, February 10, and went straight to the Palazzo di Propaganda Fide to report for work. On February 11, he celebrated mass at the Pontifico Coleggio Filippino, his first mass as Prefect of Propaganda Fide.
Though without rest, the tireless Cardinal accepted the invitation of Mariella Enoc, the President of the Child Jesus, for the presentation of the book as soon as he arrived from Manila to serve as Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. Enoc thanked Cardinal Tagle for making time for the book launch: “I thank especially Cardinal Tagle, who from his beloved Manila and the people who so dearly love him, obeyed the Pope and came to Rome ... (to lead) a ministry that is complicated and difficult.”
At the end of the conference, Cardinal Tagle was toured around the hospital then signed their guest book wherein he wrote: "Children are hope, says the Holy Father Francis. I have seen and experienced this truth in life and in the hospital, Baby Jesus. I pray that the Lord will bless you."
Pope Francis' book was published by Salani Editore, which has described the volume as “a special little book with a universal message to make the world a better place.”
Photos: Bambino Gesu