POPE FRANCIS WANTS TO VISIT LEYTE

Pope Francis may visit the areas ravaged by Super Typhoon Yolanda, according to an official of the Vatican. A report on CBCPNews, the official news service provider of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, said Cardinal Robert Sarah, president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, announced during a mass at the La Libertad Mission Church in Palo, Leyte on Tuesday that Pope Francis wants to visit Yolanda victims. “You go now because I might be going there also,” the 68-year-old Sarah quoted the Pope as telling him, drawing cheers from churchgoers. “I would not tell you the date but the Holy Father has been telling me ‘I might be also going there’,” he added. Pope Francis sent Sarah to the country to check on the progress of rehabilitation efforts and extend more assistance to typhoon survivors. Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi earlier said the Pope might visit Daejeon, South Korea in August for the Asian Youth Day. It would be his first visit to Asia since he was elected pope in March last year. Palo Archbishop John Du is elated by Sarah’s
annou
ncement.

ALSO: Pope Francis makes the cover of Rolling Stone

Pope Francis is taking his place alongside the icons of American popular culture by appearing on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine, which hits newsstands Friday. It’s the first time the staunchly liberal rock-music bible has featured a Roman Catholic pontiff on its cover, which is typically graced by pop stars and movie idols. “Pope Francis: the times they are a-changin’,” reads the cover headline that borrows the title of Bob Dylan’s classic early 1960s anthem.

ALSO: Pope Francis’ visit to ‘Yolanda’-devastated Leyte eyed

PALO, Leyte, Philippines—Pope Francis might just visit this typhoon-devastated province of more than 1 million Catholic faithful. “The Holy Father might just come. There is a plan but there is no calendar yet (for this possible visit). But we are praying for it,” Archbishop John Du, the archbishop of Palo, said in an interview. Du said that through Robert Cardinal Sarah who visited Leyte on Tuesday, the Holy Father had expressed his “oneness and solidarity” with the people of Leyte and the rest of the areas hit by Super Typhoon Yolanda on Nov. 8 last year.
Cardinal Sarah, president of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council Cor Unum responsible for charity and humanitarian assistance, presided over a Holy Mass at the damaged Saint Elizabeth of Hungary Church in Barangay (village) Libertad, some four kilometers away from the town proper. The church’s roof was blown away and is now covered with tarpaulin.

ALSO: You’ve got mail, Pope Francis

Vatican City - He’s nowhere near Santa Claus yet, but Pope Francis gets so much mail that the tiny office that deals with it is swamped and working overtime. “Mostly, they are requests for comfort or prayers,” Monsignor Giuliano Gallorini, the head of the office, told Vatican Television (CTV). The office gets about 30 sacks, or about 6,000 letters a week, which would make a yearly total of more than 300,000. The U.S. Postal Service says it gets millions of letters addressed to Santa Claus each year. Gallorini and a staff of three women, including one nun, work in a small, cramped room where cardboard boxes labeled by language are strewn on the floor and on desks. “They are signs of the difficult times in which we live. Many of them are about difficulties, above all illnesses. They ask for prayers for illnesses. They describe their difficult economic situations,” Gallorini said.

ALSO: Cries for peace ring amid the roar of war

PIKIT, NORTH COTABATO -Shouts of “Allahu Akbar!” (God is Great!) on Wednesday punctuated musical performances by Moro talents at the town plaza where some 2,000 people gathered to celebrate the signing of the final deal that sealed an agreement to end the decades-long Moro insurgency in Mindanao. In Manila, however, President Aquino vowed to crush militants opposed to the imminent peace deal between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) as the death toll from a military assault on them in Maguindanao and North Cotabato provinces rose to 38. Military officials said last night the troops overran a stronghold of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), a hardline splinter faction of the MILF, in the village of Ganta in Shariff Saidona town, Maguindanao.


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Pope wants to visit Leyte

MANILA, FEBRUARY 3, 2014 (PHILSTAR) By Evelyn Macairan - Pope Francis may visit the areas ravaged by Super Typhoon Yolanda, according to an official of the Vatican.

A report on CBCPNews, the official news service provider of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, said Cardinal Robert Sarah, president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, announced during a mass at the La Libertad Mission Church in Palo, Leyte on Tuesday that Pope Francis wants to visit Yolanda victims.

“You go now because I might be going there also,” the 68-year-old Sarah quoted the Pope as telling him, drawing cheers from churchgoers.

“I would not tell you the date but the Holy Father has been telling me ‘I might be also going there’,” he added.

Pope Francis sent Sarah to the country to check on the progress of rehabilitation efforts and extend more assistance to typhoon survivors.

Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi earlier said the Pope might visit Daejeon, South Korea in August for the Asian Youth Day. It would be his first visit to Asia since he was elected pope in March last year.

Palo Archbishop John Du is elated by Sarah’s announcement.

“Of course, we are very happy. People were really clapping,” Du said, as he asked the faithful to continue praying so that the papal visit will push through.

Sarah went around Tacloban City and Palo town and led in the distribution of relief goods. He also visited the Sisters of Mercy Hospital, a health facility dedicated to the poor, in Tacloban City and the Sacred Heart Seminary in Palo.

At the compound of the Archbishop’s Residence, also in Palo, Sarah led the groundbreaking ceremony for a proposed orphanage, clinic and home for the elderly.

Du said Cor Unum, an administrative body that handles the Vatican’s charitable activities, would finance the construction of the facilities.

The project includes a small convent for the nuns who would administer the facilities, a chapel and a dispensary.

Sarah returned to Manila Tuesday afternoon. He is set to fly back to Rome today.

Listen to Yolanda survivors

Meanwhile, CBCP president Lingayen Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas asked the government and donors to listen to the needs of Yolanda survivors.

Villegas said representatives of his archdiocese went to Catarman, Northern Samar and was surprised to learn that the people there do not want hollow blocks and galvanized iron sheets as materials in the construction of their new homes.

He said the people preferred pawid (palm leaves) and sawali (interwoven splits of bamboo), citing people who were hit by GI sheets and died at the height of Yolanda.

“The important thing is they listen to the people… If the people were asking for that kind of housing then we accommodate them. They should be respectful because when we reach out in compassion it should not be a relationship of donor and beneficiary, it should be a relationship of equals that we are brothers and therefore I’m listening to you not for a higher level but at the same level because we are both wounded, we are both needy,” he said.

FROM THE INQUIRER

Pope Francis’ visit to ‘Yolanda’-devastated Leyte eyed By Joey Gabieta Inquirer Visayas 9:39 am | Wednesday, January 29th, 2014


Pope Francis might just visit typhoon-devastated Leyte, which has more than 1 million Catholic faithful. AP FILE PHOTO

PALO, Leyte, Philippines—Pope Francis might just visit this typhoon-devastated province of more than 1 million Catholic faithful.

“The Holy Father might just come. There is a plan but there is no calendar yet (for this possible visit). But we are praying for it,” Archbishop John Du, the archbishop of Palo, said in an interview.

Du said that through Robert Cardinal Sarah who visited Leyte on Tuesday, the Holy Father had expressed his “oneness and solidarity” with the people of Leyte and the rest of the areas hit by Super Typhoon Yolanda on Nov. 8 last year.

Cardinal Sarah, president of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council Cor Unum responsible for charity and humanitarian assistance, presided over a Holy Mass at the damaged Saint Elizabeth of Hungary Church in Barangay (village) Libertad, some four kilometers away from the town proper. The church’s roof was blown away and is now covered with tarpaulin.

Sarah, prior to the holding of the Mass at Libertad, made quick visits to areas hit by Yolanda in Tacloban. He visited the San Jose district and Old Road Sagkahan district.

The cardinal also visited the Mother of Mercy Hospital in Tacloban City, which is run by the Catholic Church, which also sustained damage due to Yolanda.

“He was so disheartened when he saw the massive devastation of Yolanda in Tacloban,” said Henrieta de Villa, former ambassador to the Vatican who was among those who accompanied the visiting cardinal.

Sarah, in his homily, assured the faithful who attended the Mass held at the Saint Elizabeth of Hungary Church that the Lord would never leave His people despite the massive devastation they suffered due to Yolanda.

The cardinal also disclosed that his visit to Leyte and Tacloban was “in the name of the Holy Father, Pope Francis.”

“The Holy Father wishes to express in my person, the closeness and indeed the loving and compassionate presence to you of the Lord Jesus and the entire Church,” he said.

Father Dean Michael Calaneja, parish priest of the Saint Elizabeth of Hungary Church, said that they were happy that a high official from the Vatican came.

He also hoped that with the cardinal’s visit, the repair of the 11-year-old church would be hastened.

Archbishop Du said that practically all the more than 70 churches within the archdiocese were damaged or destroyed by Yolanda.

He, however, could not say how much the entire archdiocese would need for the repair of these churches. But he said that the cathedral alone, located at Palo, would need about P35 million for its repair.

The archbishop described the visits of high-profile personalities here, which have drawn much-needed attention to the plight of Yolanda survivors, as “blessings.”

Among the latest to visit Leyte and Tacloban, considered to be the Ground Zero of the massive typhoon, was King Carl VXI Gustaf of Sweden.

Earlier, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and US Secretary of State John Kerry and international pop star Justin Bieber also visited Tacloban.

Archbishop Giuseppe Pinto, Papal Nuncio to the Philippines, also visited Tacloban City and Palo town last December.

Pope Francis makes the cover of Rolling Stone Agence France-Presse 2:06 pm | Saturday, February 1st, 2014


http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/files/2014/02/Pope-Francis-0201.jpg
A man holds a copy of Rolling Stone magazine where Pope France appeared on cover in Los Angeles, California. AFP

WASHINGTON— Pope Francis is taking his place alongside the icons of American popular culture by appearing on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine, which hits newsstands Friday.

It’s the first time the staunchly liberal rock-music bible has featured a Roman Catholic pontiff on its cover, which is typically graced by pop stars and movie idols.

“Pope Francis: the times they are a-changin’,” reads the cover headline that borrows the title of Bob Dylan’s classic early 1960s anthem.

The Argentine-born pope, who took office in March last year, has previously been Time magazine’s Person of the Year. He also made the cover of The Advocate, the respected US gay rights magazine.

In an accompanying 8,000-word profile, seen on its website Wednesday, Rolling Stone hailed the pontiff’s relaxed style and his less aggressive stance on such hot-button issues as homosexuality compared to his two predecessors.

In a statement, Rolling Stone’s editors said they had been struck by his seeming effort to play down “culture war issues” and his willingness to talk “about real world economic issues in starkly moral terms.”

“His tone is a breath of fresh air, but his message is a wake-up call,” they said.

Roman Catholics make up the biggest Christian denomination in the United States, but polls indicate lay Catholics don’t all share the national church leadership’s hardline stance on abortion, contraception and gay marriage.

FROM MANILA BULLETIN

You’ve got mail, Pope Francis by Reuters February 1, 2014 Share this:


Pope Francis, Manila Bulletin, mb.com.ph Pope Francis waves as he leads the general audience in Saint Peter’s Square at the Vatican January 29, 2014. REUTERS/Tony Gentile (VATICAN – Tags: RELIGION)

Vatican City - He’s nowhere near Santa Claus yet, but Pope Francis gets so much mail that the tiny office that deals with it is swamped and working overtime.

“Mostly, they are requests for comfort or prayers,” Monsignor Giuliano Gallorini, the head of the office, told Vatican Television (CTV).

The office gets about 30 sacks, or about 6,000 letters a week, which would make a yearly total of more than 300,000. The U.S. Postal Service says it gets millions of letters addressed to Santa Claus each year.

Gallorini and a staff of three women, including one nun, work in a small, cramped room where cardboard boxes labeled by language are strewn on the floor and on desks.

“They are signs of the difficult times in which we live. Many of them are about difficulties, above all illnesses. They ask for prayers for illnesses. They describe their difficult economic situations,” Gallorini said.

The most urgent and personal letters are passed to the pope’s two private priest-secretaries to give to him. “These are the ones that are a little more delicate, that have to do with questions of conscience,” Gallorini said.

Letters about economic difficulties are sent to local Catholic charities to decide how the people can be helped.

The pope tweets messages on Twitter but he does not follow anyone. He does not have an email account and likes to receive what one senior aide called “old-fashioned letters”.

Cries for peace ring amid the roar of war Inquirer Mindanao 12:51 am | Thursday, January 30th, 2014


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WAR AND PEACE This photo taken on Tuesday shows Army soldiers firing 105mm howitzers toward the position of Moro renegade rebels during a clash near Rajah Buayan, Maguindanao province. At right, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) spokesman Abu Misri gestures as he speaks during an interview at the rebels’ hideout in Maguindanao on Wednesday. AFP

PIKIT, North Cotabato—Shouts of “Allahu Akbar!” (God is Great!) on Wednesday punctuated musical performances by Moro talents at the town plaza where some 2,000 people gathered to celebrate the signing of the final deal that sealed an agreement to end the decades-long Moro insurgency in Mindanao.

In Manila, however, President Aquino vowed to crush militants opposed to the imminent peace deal between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) as the death toll from a military assault on them in Maguindanao and North Cotabato provinces rose to 38.

Military officials said last night the troops overran a stronghold of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), a hardline splinter faction of the MILF, in the village of Ganta in Shariff Saidona town, Maguindanao.

“The Armed Forces … (are) going on these operations to prevent lawless [elements] from inflicting harm on our population, and to seriously degrade their abilities to again act as (peace) spoilers,” the President told reporters.

The government wrapped up peace talks with the MILF, the biggest Moro rebel group, on Saturday in Kuala Lumpur, then quickly deployed the military against the BIFF.

“’Nya den ba su kalilintad (Peace is here),” said a man in his early 30s as he grabbed an unattended microphone after a kulintang (native musical instrument) rendition at the Pikit plaza, which drew a festive and predominantly Muslim crowd from the Maguindanao indigenous group.

Not far from the place, other Moros were terrified as fighting dragged to a fourth day between soldiers and the BIFF, which split from the MILF in 2008 to pursue a path to Islamic independence. At least 10,000 civilians have reportedly fled from clashes in Datu Piang, Shariff Saydona and Sultan sa Barongis, all in Maguindanao, and in Pikit.

Artillery fire
The Mindanao Human Rights Action Center (MinHRAC) said an artillery shell fell in an area near an encampment of displaced residents in Sitio (subvillage) Madtalbayug in Datu Piang on Tuesday. No one was reported hurt, MinHRAC said, but the evacuees had to scamper for safety toward the poblacion area.

A government artillery barrage was also launched in the nearby town of Datu Salibu early Wednesday, said MinHRAC executive director Zainudin Malang.

Col. Dickson Hermoso, 6th Infantry Division spokesman, said on Wednesday that the manhunt for 27 BIFF leaders facing criminal charges “will continue in the next 72 hours.”

Of the 37 rebel fatalities reported, only 12 bodies were recovered by soldiers in the towns of Datu Piang, Shariff Saydona and Sultan sa Barongis, Hermoso said. Some of the dead were still in the marshland and could not be retrieved as BIFF snipers were firing at the troops, he added.

Abu Misry Mama, speaking for the BIFF, denied Hermoso’s claim. “Maybe the bodies they are referring to were civilian casualties hit during mortar attacks,” he said.

Mama claimed that the rebels captured a military armored personnel carrier in the village of Damabalas in Datu Piang on Wednesday.

Checkpoints
“We will just get the .50-cal. machine gun in it, then we will burn it. We cannot use it because there are no roads in our bases,” Mama told the Inquirer on the phone.

Police and Army checkpoints have been put up along the Cotabato-General Santos highway and Cotabato City-Davao City highway.

“Our major highways remain passable and safe because we have successfully contained the BIFF in one area in the marshland,” Hermoso said.

In Pikit, a 27-year-old woman, who identified herself only as Salimar, said she wasn’t too young to know how war made the Moro people suffer. Clutching her 3-year-old daughter, she said she joined the celebration even if she barely knew the group that invited her over.

“I think they were called Women of Bangsamoro,” she said, giggling.

“I’m sorry, I felt so elated that peace is finally here. I really believe that what I went through as a child will not be experienced by my daughter,” Salimar said in the vernacular.

Machete for rifle
Babo Asal, who gave her age as 78, was weeping. “You know how you will immediately understand how I feel now that the talks had wrapped up with agreements? You only have to flee a battle zone once.”

An MILF fighter, who was among those who defended the rebels’ main base, Camp Abubakar, in 2000, said he had longed for the day he would drop his Kalashnikov rifle for a machete.

“I have a small farm that has not borne fruit for many years. Now it’s going to be productive,” Tong Kamad said.

Reacting to the BIFF’s insistence on independence, Kamad shook his head and said: “Have they not grown tired of the violence?”

Contrary to the BIFF’s belief that only independence will free the Moro people from poverty and oppression, Kamad said a working government under Manila could still prove to spell the difference. “With real Moro running the system, it will not be remote,” he said.

Under the planned peace accord, the MILF will have control over the autonomous Muslim region. Aquino aims for the peace plan to be implemented before he steps down in mid-2016.—With reports from Allan Nawal, Karlos Manlupig, Edwin O. Fernandez, Charlie C. Señase and Jeoffrey Maitem, Inquirer Mindanao; and AFP


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