Cardinal Tagle leads Ash Wednesday rites

Posted at 02/13/13 7:19 PM

MANILA - Filipino Catholics marked the start of the 40-day Lent by observing Ash Wednesday on February 13, remembering the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Thousands in Manila attended the morning mass service, queuing up to have their foreheads marked with ash crosses symbolising penitence and mortality.

Churchgoer Aurora Paredes said the annual Catholic tradition serves as a reminder of her faith.

"It makes us feel better inside knowing that it helps lighten the sins we committed," she said.

Pope Benedict's surprise resignation on Monday was on the minds of many Filipinos, and some speculated on the next papal leader.

One potential candidate is Manila's recently installed Cardinal, Luis Antonio Tagle, who is known to be close to Pope Benedict after working with him at the International Theological Commission.

"I think Cardinal Tagle has a better chance of attaining the Papal seat because I think the Cardinals wanted a new Pope that comes from the third world country or in Asia," said churchgoer Raymond Quilatan.

Eighty percent of the Philippines' 94 million population are Catholics, making it the biggest Catholic nation in Asia.