Cardinal Luis Antonio Gokim Tagle
Cardinal Luis Antonio Gokim Tagle of the Philippines, the recipient of the 2015–16 Ford Family Notre Dame Award for Human Development and Solidarity, has been a consistent advocate for the poor and vulnerable throughout his influential career in the Catholic Church. The 32nd archbishop of Manila, he is both unpretentious and dynamic, whether commuting by bicycle or inspiring massive crowds with his exhortations.
Born in 1957, Tagle grew up in a devout Catholic family and was ordained to the priesthood in 1982. He served as a parish priest in Cavite Province for three years and taught theology at several seminaries before continuing his own studies.
In 1991, he earned a doctorate in sacred theology from the Catholic University of America, writing his dissertation on the development of episcopal collegiality during Vatican II. His dissertation director, Joseph Komonchak, called him “one of the best students I had in over 40 years of teaching,” opining that Tagle could have been an influential theologian had he not been appointed bishop.
Pope John Paul II appointed Tagle a member of the Vatican’s International Theological Commission in 1997, and in 2001 he was named bishop of Imus, the Philippines. In his new role, he made it a point to live humbly and remain connected to those he served.
A decade later, Pope Benedict XVI appointed him the 32nd Archbishop of Manila and, in 2012, named him to the College of Cardinals—the second-youngest member of that body.
Since 2015, the Cardinal has served as the president of Caritas International, a confederation of more than 160 Catholic relief organizations that work with the most vulnerable, regardless of race or religion. Aiming to end poverty, promote justice, and restore dignity, Caritas has mounted an active response to the international migrant crisis.
Tagle has also served as a member of the Presidential Committee of the Pontifical Council for the Family and of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples.
The Cardinal is known for his friendly demeanor and approachable nature, preferring to be called by his nickname “Chito” instead of his full title. Media savvy, he has a large social media following, particularly on Facebook, where he shares videos of his homilies and public talks. With over half a million “likes,” Tagle is able to spread his message of hope and forgiveness to people across the globe.
Tagle has spoken out strongly about issues impacting the poor and marginalized in the Philippines and around the world. He has stood firmly against the death penalty and political corruption and worked vigorously toward a Catholic response to issues such as the refugee crisis and climate change.
“Very often, the refugee issue is reduced to statistics and an abstraction,” he has said, urging people to meet and talk to migrants. “These are human lives,” he noted. “If our decisions are not based on the respect for human dignity and for what is good, then we will just be prolonging this problem—creating conflicts that drive people away.”