Saturday, 08 December 2018 08:49

Message delivered by Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio G. Cardinal Tagle to welcome His Eminence Thomas Aquinas Manyo Cardinal Maeda Envoy of His Holiness Pope Francis on December 8, 2018, Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception at The Manila Cathedral


At the outset I would like to greet all of you a blessed Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of our Blessed Mother. Welcome to the Manila Cathedral and Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception as we commemorate the dedication of the post-war reconstructed cathedral in 1958.

The “rising of the Manila Cathedral from the rubble of war” 60 years ago is recognized by Pope Francis as an important event of faith, hope and love.  For this reason, His Holiness sent someone to represent him and his love for the Church in the Philippines. We welcome the Papal Legate, His Eminence Cardinal Thomas Aquinas Manyo Maeda, Archbishop of Osaka, Japan.  The Archdiocese of Manila thanks the Holy Father Pope Francis for gracing the feast through you.  We also thank you for accepting the mission the Pope has entrusted you.

Photo by Eric Paul Guanlao

Your Eminence, last April 12, 2018, I welcomed you here in Manila Cathedral. You came with Japanese pilgrims who were tracing the sites connected to Blessed Justo Ukon Takayama, a Japanese martyr who died in Manila in 1615. A month later, Pope Francis announced that you were being elevated to the College of Cardinals. I would like to think that Manila Cathedral prepared you for a new mission. Now, we welcome you again not only as the Cardinal-Archbishop of Osaka but as the Papal Legate. We could not think of a better choice.

Cardinal Maeda’s ancestors belonged to the hidden Christians in the Japan where Christianity was banned.  Families passed on the faith from generation to generation with creativity and courage.  Christianity was hidden but not absent. Hiddenness has its own dynamic power.  Your Eminence, you carry the un-assuming, humble heritage of hidden but authentic Christians. Here in Manila Cathedral, the longings, cries and thanksgiving of generous of Filipino Catholics have been lifted to God in hidden but real ways.  Their hidden faces and voices continue to strengthen us in faith.

Cardinal Maeda has been an advocate for peace.  Growing up in Nagasaki, he saw the scars of war. His own mother has been exposed to the light and radiation of the atomic bomb that fell on Nagasaki on August 9, 1945.  The cry for peace screams from his veins. Your Eminence, Manila Cathedral was ravaged to the ground during the war of liberation in 1945.  Like you, this reconstructed Cathedral is a testament to the power of peace over violence.  We will always rise again after every storm, earthquake, fire and war, because we believe in peace.

Cardinal Maeda is a poet. He almost spontaneously composes the Japanese poetic form called haiku, even in his homilies. I heard his recite haikus in Rome last June after the consistory for new cardinals. When I attended the beatification of Blessed Ukon Takayama in Osaka last year, he brought me to a small Japanese eating place where he made me taste simple Japanese fish, squid, shrimps, vegetables and of course sake. Simplicity, closeness to nature, brokenness, and silence – these are the ingredients that make one a poet.  Your Eminence, the Manila Cathedral is a poem to God offered by the Filipino people.  Please join your haiku to our tula.

Your Eminence, thank you once again. Please convey to Pope Francis our love. And now please lead us in the Eucharist, the eternal Poem of Jesus, the Mystery Hidden but now revealed as the Prince of Peace! (RCAM-AOC)

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