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POPE'S PRESENCE IS THE BEST GIFT FOR YOLANDA SURVIVORS


EMOTIONAL DAY Pope Francis waves to well wishers after a mass in Tacloban on Saturday. AFP PHOTO ---Pope Francis’ visit to Tacloban, which typhoon Amang failed to stop, is the best gift ever for the survivors who lost their families, friends and their homes to Super Typhoon Yolanda in 2013. Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Romualdez, one of the local officials who welcomed the Holy Father at the Daniel Romualdez airport, noted that the Pope’s presence virtually lifted the burden of the people. “This is the best relief and gift for all of us. The Vicar of Christ came to Tacloban City to comfort and assure us that the Lord is there for us,” Romualdez said.
The Pope decided to push through with his trip to Tacloban and Palo, Leyte despite the threat of typhoon Amang, which has been pouring rains in the province since Friday. The Holy Father celebrated a mass at the airport, had a lunch with a group of Yolanda survivors, and briefly visited the Palo, Cathedral where he handed his gift to the parish: A rendering the Madonna del Popolo (an image of Mama Mary and Jesus Christ). READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: Pope’s visit in Leyte cut short by typhoon but not his message


Pope Francis spends a brief moment with the poor in Palo, Leyte ravaged by Supertyphoon Yolanda in 2013. Pope Francis' trip in the province was cut short by heavy rains and gutsy winds brought by storm "Amang" on Saturday, Jan. 17, 2014. RTVM screengrab/Released --Tacloban, Leyte — Pope Francis’ trip here was cut short the other day due to tropical storm “Amang,” but he imparted a long lasting lesson that the people here will always remember. And that is his pastoral theme: Mercy and compassion. Amid the stormy weather, the Holy Father bonded with his flock for a few hours and shared with their lingering pain and suffering. He offered his sympathies and even asked an apology from victims of “Yolanda” for not immediately being with them. CONTINUE READING...

ALSO: ‘Bless the Philippines’; Pope prays for peace, integrity, justice


Photo provided by the Philippine Air Force Public Information Office shows the crowd in Rizal Park as they wait in the rain for the arrival of Pope Francis yesterday. MANILA, Philippines - After his rapturous reception in Asia’s bastion of the Catholic faith, Pope Francis prayed for blessings for the Philippines yesterday and asked Filipinos to serve as missionaries of the Gospel in the region and the world. “Filipinos are called to be outstanding missionaries of faith in Asia,” the pontiff said in his homily in a mass held at the Quirino Grandstand in Rizal Park, in which he also bade the nation goodbye. Quoting a verse from the Bible, he said that being the “foremost Catholic country in Asia” is in “itself a special gift of God, a blessing” for the country. “May the Santo Niño continue to bless the Philippines and to sustain the Christians of this great nation in their vocation to be witnesses and missionaries of the joy of the Gospel, in Asia and in the whole world,” the pope said. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: Selfie crowd, from rosaries to smart phones


When Pope Francis disembarked from the plane upon arrival at the Villamor Air Base, Pasay from Tacloban City last Saturday afternoon, he approached a girl on wheelchair with a facemask.
“Selfie?” he asked Tricia Farnacio, who of course did not let the opportunity pass. The 16-year-old suffering from kidney disease quickly posted her prized photo on Twitter and was so thankful that her effort to see the humble pontiff “was all worth it.”  “We cancelled my treatment in Tagaytay just to see the pope,” she said. “I was so nervous.”   Farnacio revealed that she was given a wheelchair by organizers after learning about her condition. This selfie - his first in the Philippines - was proof of Pope Francis being a “pope of many surprises” and a “rock star pope.”  It showed how the pontiff would go out of his way and even break security protocol just to reach out to the people — a scenario witnessed by the country in many instances in the past four days. READ MORE...

ALSO FAITH AMID STORM: Record 6-M jams Luneta to hear People’s Pope


In a gathering Filipino politicians can only dream of, Pope Francis drew a record six million people as he celebrated Mass amid rains from tropical storm “Amang” at Luneta or Rizal Park, delivering a powerful message for the poor to a rapturous audience in a triumphant finale to an Asian tour.
Filipinos are famous for practising a passionate brand of Catholicism and they turned out in force despite the wet weather, determined to see the charismatic 78-year-old pontiff, and in a celebratory mood that defied the gloomy skies. Francis made an exhilarating entrance to a Manila bayside park for the Mass aboard a “Popemobile” that was styled after the nation’s iconic, flamboyant and much-loved “jeepney” minibus. Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle said the pope was impressed with the record turnout exclaiming to him “What faith, what faith.” READ FULL REPORT..

ALSO: Mammoth crowd tops 1995 John Paul 2 visit


Pope Francis wrapped up his last full day in the country yesterday in Rizal Park where an estimated six million rain-soaked Filipinos gathered for what a Vatican official said was the largest ever papal mass in the Philippines. A steady rain from the same storm that forced Francis to cut short his visit to Tacloban on Saturday fell on the crowd, but it didn’t seem to dampen spirits of Filipinos who streamed into Rizal Park for the pope’s concluding Mass. Organizers had expected that as many as 6 million people might turn out, surpassing the 5 million record set by St. John Paul II in the same park in 1995. With two hours to go before the start of Mass, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority chairman Francis Tolentino reported that 3 million had packed the park and surrounding streets. READ MORE...

ALSO: Pope prays for aid worker who died in Tacloban mass


Pope Francis points at the statue of Jesus during his speech as he celebrates a Mass in Tacloban, Philippines. AP/Alessandra Tarantino
TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines – Pope Francis asked for prayers for the female volunteer who died following the papal mass held near the Daniel Z. Romualdez airport here last Saturday. “I would like all of you, young like her, to pray for a moment in silence with me and then we pray to our mama, our lady, in heaven,” the pope said during a gathering with the youth at the University of Santo Tomas yesterday. The pope was referring to Kristel May Padasas, who died after being struck in the head by steel scaffolding at the site of the mass shortly after Pope Francis left. “She worked for the organization and preparation for that very mass. She was 27 years old, young like yourselves. She worked for Catholic Relief Services (CRS). She was a volunteer,” the pope said. READ FULL REPORT FROM REPORT BY PHILSTAR...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Pope’s presence best gift for survivors


EMOTIONAL DAY Pope Francis waves to well wishers after a mass in Tacloban on Saturday. AFP PHOTO

MANILA, JANUARY 19, 2015
(PHILSTAR) by Llanesca T. Panti - Pope Francis’ visit to Tacloban, which typhoon Amang failed to stop, is the best gift ever for the survivors who lost their families, friends and their homes to Super Typhoon Yolanda in 2013.

Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Romualdez, one of the local officials who welcomed the Holy Father at the Daniel Romualdez airport, noted that the Pope’s presence virtually lifted the burden of the people.
“This is the best relief and gift for all of us. The Vicar of Christ came to Tacloban City to comfort and assure us that the Lord is there for us,” Romualdez said.

The Pope decided to push through with his trip to Tacloban and Palo, Leyte despite the threat of typhoon Amang, which has been pouring rains in the province since Friday. The Holy Father celebrated a mass at the airport, had a lunch with a group of Yolanda survivors, and briefly visited the Palo, Cathedral where he handed his gift to the parish:

A rendering the Madonna del Popolo (an image of Mama Mary and Jesus Christ).


Pope Francis' gift to the diocese of Palo, Leyte--a mosaic of the Madonna del Popolo. CBCP News/Released

“We thank the Pope for the blessings he shared with us. He comes at a time when we are going through one of the most trying times in our history. The prayers he sent us were of immeasurable help,” Romualdez added.

Romualdez hopes that the papal visit will help accelerate the repair and rehabilitation efforts in Yolanda-stricken areas where survivors are still living in makeshift tents.

Currently, the National Housing Authority has built 1,595 housing units or 18 percent of the first year target. The NHA received in December 2013 the amount of P2.4 billion for the construction of 8,629 permanent housing units for Yolanda survivors.

The finished housing units represent less than one percent of the government target of 205,218 permanent housing units for Yolanda victims by 2016.

“It is high time for the government to work double time and rescue the survivors from their poor living condition,” Romualdez said.


MANILA BULLETIN

Pope’s visit in Leyte cut short, but not his message by Raymund F. Antonio January 18, 2015 Share this:


Pope Francis spends a brief moment with the poor in Palo, Leyte ravaged by Supertyphoon Yolanda in 2013. Pope Francis' trip in the province was cut short by heavy rains and gutsy winds brought by storm "Amang" on Saturday, Jan. 17, 2014.
RTVM screengrab/Released

Tacloban, Leyte — Pope Francis’ trip here was cut short the other day due to tropical storm “Amang,” but he imparted a long lasting lesson that the people here will always remember.

And that is his pastoral theme: Mercy and compassion.

Amid the stormy weather, the Holy Father bonded with his flock for a few hours and shared with their lingering pain and suffering. He offered his sympathies and even asked an apology from victims of “Yolanda” for not immediately being with them.

“What the people must learn is the compassion of God in spite of the fact that they were experiencing tragedy, the catastrophe turns into a blessing,” Father Fernando Suarez told Manila Bulletin.

Suarez, who is widely known as the “healing priest,” was among the clergy in the Papal mass held at the airport grounds packed with 160,000 rain-soaked pilgrims and well-wishers last January 17.

He shared that it was his second time to see the Pope after he went to Vatican in Rome for the canonization of Pope John Paul II in April last year.

In his apostolic visit, Suarez said that Pope Francis showed that the people are all “welcome” to him as he displayed the “compassionate and unconditional love of God.”

“Our Pope is one with us. He wants to be with us. He wants to feel what we feel. He wants to walk with us. He cares for us and he is in solidarity with our life here in our place,” Father Amadeo Alvero, social communications director of the Archdiocese of Palo, said.

Alvero said that the people learned “they are not alone in the journey of life and faith” after he parted from typhoon victims and pilgrims.

“He is indeed the Vicar of Christ. He lives the message of God’s mercy and compassion. Such visit will bring us to also be one with the least of our brothers and sisters in need,” the priest said.

During the Papal mass, Pope Francis was literally one with the crowd, blending with the sea of community in yellow raincoats and got drenched. He gave blessings to the faithful.

“God is so merciful especially for those who are suffering. His heart goes to people who suffer. His heart goes to the people who are experiencing tragedy, catastrophe in life. It is so evident the blessing for the places where the Pope went here precisely to show compassion and his mercy particularly the people of Tacloban,” Suarez said.


PHILSTAR

‘Bless the Philippines’: Pope prays for peace, integrity, justice By Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star) | Updated January 19, 2015 - 12:00am 0 1 googleplus0 0


Photo provided by the Philippine Air Force Public Information Office shows the crowd in Rizal Park as they wait in the rain for the arrival of Pope Francis yesterday.

MANILA, Philippines - After his rapturous reception in Asia’s bastion of the Catholic faith, Pope Francis prayed for blessings for the Philippines yesterday and asked Filipinos to serve as missionaries of the Gospel in the region and the world.

“Filipinos are called to be outstanding missionaries of faith in Asia,” the pontiff said in his homily in a mass held at the Quirino Grandstand in Rizal Park, in which he also bade the nation goodbye.

Quoting a verse from the Bible, he said that being the “foremost Catholic country in Asia” is in “itself a special gift of God, a blessing” for the country.

“May the Santo Niño continue to bless the Philippines and to sustain the Christians of this great nation in their vocation to be witnesses and missionaries of the joy of the Gospel, in Asia and in the whole world,” the pope said.

He cited Ephesians 1:3, which states: “The apostle tells us that because God chose us, we have been richly blessed. God has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in heaven.”

The 78-year-old pontiff asked Filipinos to persevere not to be lured by the devil who “distracts us with the promise of ephemeral pleasures, superficial pastimes.”

“Often, he hides his snares behind the appearance of sophistication, the allure of being modern like everyone else. He distracts. And so we squander our God-given gifts by tinkering with gadgets; we squander our money on gambling and drink; we turn in on ourselves,” he said.

He also cautioned that people forget to remain focused on the “things that really matter.”

“We forget to remain, at heart, children of God. For children, as the Lord tells us, have their own wisdom, which is not the wisdom of the world. That is why the message of the Santo Niño is so important. He speaks powerfully to all of us. He reminds us of our deepest identity, of what we are called to be as God’s family,” he said.

Pope Francis as well urged Filipino Catholics to protect their young from sin and vice so they can become missionaries of faith.

“We need to see each child as a gift to be welcomed, cherished and protected,” the pope said in his homily. “And we need to care for our young people, not allowing them to be robbed of hope and condemned to a life on the streets.”

The pope noted it was a “special joy” for him to celebrate the mass yesterday, which coincides with the Feast of Sto. Niño, with the Filipino people.

He said the image of the Holy Child had “accompanied the spread of the Gospel in this country from the beginning,” noting that the Sto. Niño “reminds us of our call to spread the reign of Christ throughout the world.”

At the end of his homily, Pope Francis urged Filipinos to be reminded of Jesus “who came among us as a child.”

“May he enable all the beloved people of this country to work together, protecting one another, beginning with your families and communities, in building a world of justice, integrity and peace… Please don’t forget to pray for me! God bless you all!” he added.

Challenge accepted; gratitude expressed

Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas has accepted the pope’s challenge for the Filipinos to be messengers of faith.

“Holy Father, when you give us the blessing of light, we promise we will be your light, we will be the light of Jesus for Asia and in the world. We will light the world with mercy and compassion, the mercy and compassion of Jesus. We will light the world with the joy of the gospel,” Villegas said in his words of gratitude at the end of the mass.

He also thanked the pope for braving Tropical Storm Amang as he visited and consoled the survivors of Super Typhoon Yolanda in Tacloban and Palo in Leyte last Saturday and as he celebrated the mass in Luneta yesterday.

Villegas added that the pope’s visit in Leyte uplifted the spirits of Yolanda survivors.

This was echoed by Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, who gave assurances that Filipinos are now more willing to follow the pontiff.

“Every Filipino wants to go with you – not to Rome – but to the peripheries, to the shanties, to prison cells, to hospitals, to the world of politics, finance, arts, sciences, culture, education, and social communications. We will go to these worlds to bring the light of Jesus, Jesus who is the center of your pastoral visit and the cornerstone of the Church,” Tagle added.


PHILSTAR

Selfie crowd: From rosaries to smart phones By Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) | Updated January 19, 2015 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


Photo by Joven Cagande

MANILA, Philippines - When Pope Francis disembarked from the plane upon arrival at the Villamor Air Base, Pasay from Tacloban City last Saturday afternoon, he approached a girl on wheelchair with a facemask.

“Selfie?” he asked Tricia Farnacio, who of course did not let the opportunity pass.

The 16-year-old suffering from kidney disease quickly posted her prized photo on Twitter and was so thankful that her effort to see the humble pontiff “was all worth it.”

“We cancelled my treatment in Tagaytay just to see the pope,” she said. “I was so nervous.”

Farnacio revealed that she was given a wheelchair by organizers after learning about her condition.

This selfie - his first in the Philippines - was proof of Pope Francis being a “pope of many surprises” and a “rock star pope.”

It showed how the pontiff would go out of his way and even break security protocol just to reach out to the people — a scenario witnessed by the country in many instances in the past four days.

On his second day in Manila last Friday, the pope went to Malacañang for the formal and official welcome of his journey, which is also a state visit, not in his popemobile but on board a closed Volkswagen Touran.

But it did not stop him from blessing the faithful as he rolled down his window to wave to the crowd lined up along the route.

After his Mass at the Manila Cathedral, the Pope caught his security off guard when he exited at the side door instead of passing through the main entrance.

And instead of going straight back to the Apostolic Nunciature from the cathedral as scheduled, Pope Francis spontaneously made a detour to the Tulay ng Kabataan (TNK) Foundation, a Church-run charity in Intramuros, for a surprise visit to some 300 street children.

In the afternoon, the Pope surprised everyone by posting Filipino words on his official Twitter account @Pontifex: “Ang Pilipinas ay patunay ng kabataan at kasiglahan ng Simbahan (The Philippines bear witness to the youthfulness and vitality of the Church).”

This post on his Twitter account with over 5.2 million followers immediately got over 60,000 retweets and over 70,000 favorites.

During the Mass at Tacloban airport last Saturday, he ditched his prepared English speech in his desire to speak from the heart and instead delivered an impromtu speech in Spanish with the help of a translator to address the survivors of Super Typhoon Yolanda that devastated the province in 2013.

After celebrating mass and while the faithful were still receiving communion, Pope Francis again surprised the crowd when he went around the site aboard the popemobile. He even stopped at one point to bless a child.

The pope stopped his motorcade several times and asked his guards to bring to him young children, whom he blessed and kissed.

His visit to Palo in Leyte, a town also devastated by Yolanda, last Saturday was cut short due to Tropical Storm Amang.

He was supposed to stay until 5 p.m. for the blessing of Pope Francis Center for the Poor and meeting with clergy and survivors of Yolanda, but left at 1 p.m. to avoid the expected heavy rains and strong winds brought by the approaching storm.

The pope apologized, saying he wanted to stay longer.

He extended his prayer on Twitter for the people of Leyte in the evening with the post: “Ang kahabagan ng Diyos, ang kanyang sakripisyo, ay nagbibigay saysay at halaga sa lahat ng ating paghihirap (The compassion of God, his suffering with us, gives meaning and worth to our struggles and our sufferings).”

Senior Vatican correspondent Alan Holdren of EWTN Rome said these surprises are very characteristic of the pope.

Holdren is part of the Vatican Accredited Media Personnel (VAMP) covering the Holy Father’s visit.

“[Pope Francis] never stops. He keeps on going. He hardly sleeps. He does things spontaneously,” he shared to local media at the final press conference at Diamond Hotel last night.

Amid the rain, some people from the crowd who trooped at the University of Santo Tomas (UST) in Manila yesterday, were fortunate to have posed for selfies with the pope who was wearing a yellow raincoat to meet young people at the school campus. – With Rhodina Villanueva


TRIBUNE

FAITH AMID STORM: Record 6M jams Luneta to hear People’s Pope Written by Tribune Wires Monday, 19 January 2015 00:00

FRANCIS SPEAKS OUT VS POVERTY, CORRUPTION ANEW

In a gathering Filipino politicians can only dream of, Pope Francis drew a record six million people as he celebrated Mass amid rains from tropical storm “Amang” at Luneta or Rizal Park, delivering a powerful message for the poor to a rapturous audience in a triumphant finale to an Asian tour.
Filipinos are famous for practising a passionate brand of Catholicism and they turned out in force despite the wet weather, determined to see the charismatic 78-year-old pontiff, and in a celebratory mood that defied the gloomy skies.

Francis made an exhilarating entrance to a Manila bayside park for the Mass aboard a “Popemobile” that was styled after the nation’s iconic, flamboyant and much-loved “jeepney” minibus.

Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle said the pope was impressed with the record turnout exclaiming to him “What faith, what faith.”

Dressed in a plastic yellow poncho, he waved and smiled to wildly cheering crowds, stopping repeatedly so he could lean over barriers and kiss babies, before reaching the sea of believers at Rizal Park.

The Philippines is the Catholic Church’s bastion in Asia, with 80 percent of the former Spanish colony followers of the faith, and the pope praised them for their reverence.

“The Philippines is the foremost Catholic country in Asia. This is itself a special gift of God, a blessing,” the pontiff told the vast crowd.

“But it is also a vocation. Filipinos are called to be outstanding missionaries of the faith in Asia.”

He also spoke out against “poverty, ignorance and corruption”, a theme he has drawn on during the five-day visit to the Philippines which opened with a speech in which he lectured the nation’s politicians to end “scandalous social inequalities”.

About 25 million Filipinos, or one quarter of the population, live on the equivalent of 60 cents a day or less, according to government data.

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chairman Francis Tolentino said 6 million turned out to see the pope, surpassing the previous world record for a papal gathering of 5 million during a mass by John Paul II at the same venue in 1995.

Francis was stunned by the enormous crowd, Archbishop of Manila Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, who has acted as the pontiff’s chaperone throughout the trip, told reporters.

“I can not fathom the faith of the simple people,” Tagle quoted the pope as saying after the mass was over.

People who attended the event exuded excitement, love and respect.

“We are devotees of the pope,” Bernie Nacario, 53, told AFP as he stood amid the crowd with his wife and two young children.

“The pope is an instrument of the Lord and if you are able to communicate with him, it is just like talking to God himself.”

Nacario said he was a long-time arthritis sufferer but today his pain had disappeared.

“It is as if the Lord has cured my ailment.”

Before the mass, the pope had an emotional encounter with former street children.

Glyzelle Palomar, a 12-year-old taken in by a church charity, wept as she asked how God could allow children to descend into prostitution and drug addiction.

The pope enfolded her in his arms, and discarded his prepared speech as he reverted to his native Spanish to deliver an impromptu and heartfelt response.

“She is the only one who has put a question for which there is no answer and she wasn’t even able to express it in words but in tears,” he told those gathered at the Universityof Santo Tomas (UST).

Local authorities undertook one of their biggest-ever security operations to protect the pope, with nearly 40,000 soldiers and police deployed for Sunday’s event.

“This is a sea of faith we are dealing with,” acting Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Leonardo Espina said before the mass, the pope’s last major event before flying back to Rome on Monday.
The pope’s tour, which also took him to Sri Lanka, is his second trip to Asia in five months, in a nod to the region’s growing importance to the Catholic Church as it faces declining support in Europe and the United States.

It is also the fourth papal visit to the Philippines, and the rapturous reception given to him throughout his stay cemented the nation’s status as the Church’s Asian role model.

Faith amid storm

But not everything went to plan.

The pope said the main reason for visiting the Philippines was to meet survivors of typhoon Yolanda, the strongest storm ever recorded on land which claimed more than 7,350 lives in November 2013.

He flew on Saturday morning from Manila to Leyte island, ground zero for the typhoon, and had planned to spend a full day in communities where homes were flattened by monster winds and tsunami-like storm surges.

But, with tropical storm Amang descending on the region, he was forced to cut short his visit and fly back to Manila.

“I apologize to you all. I’m sad about this, truly saddened,” the pontiff told thousands who had gathered at one church shortly before he raced back to airport.

Just 30 minutes after his flight left, a plane carrying top aides of President Aquino skidded off the same runway as it was buffeted by strong side winds while trying to take off. No one was seriously injured.

Earlier in the day, the storm’s winds tore down scaffolding at the venue where the pope said mass, killing a woman volunteer with the organizing committee.

Still, the crowd of 200,000 typhoon survivors who turned out in heavy rain were overjoyed the pontiff had braved the dangerous weather to see them.

“Long live the pope!” the crowd chanted.

For Pope Francis, weeping is nothing to be ashamed of as he encouraged Filipino Christians, especially the youth, to ‘learn how to weep’ and see the world through ‘cleansed’ eyes.

In his message during his encounter with various youth groups at the UST, the pope began by pointing out how a former street kid, who was not able to express herself through words, better expressed herself through tears.

Twelve-year-old Palomar began her testimony to the Pope asking him why God allowed children to suffer so much, recounting her experience along with fellow street child, Jun Chura.

Both Palomar and Chura are both beneficiaries of the Tulay ng Kabataan, a foundation that has been helping street children in Manila.

Moved to tears, Palomar who failed to finish her speech, instead received a hug from the Pope himself, as she and Chura handed him souvenirs such as a UST lanyard and baller (band).

The Pope in his message said that Palomar was the only female in the group of those who had given testimonies, and that she was the only one ‘who has put a question for which there is no answer’.

“There are certain realities in life we only see through eyes that are cleansed through tears,” Pope Francis spoke before a crowd of over 20,000 people at UST.

Although he said that it was almost impossible to answer the question ‘why do children suffer so much?’, he said that it is only when a person has cried when he or she can be able to fully understand the question.

“Today’s world has a great lack of capacity of knowing how to cry,” the Pope said. “(It is) only when Christ cried that he understood our lives.”

“Your people in today’s world has a lack of capacity of knowing how to cry” he added. “Let us learn how to weep as she (Glyzelle) has shown us today.”

The Pope then mentioned that Jesus himself was a weeper, noting how Jesus was moved to tears during the death of his friend, for the family that had lost a child.

“If you don’t learn how to cry, you can’t be good Christians,” he added. “This is a challenge. Be courageous, please don’t be frightened of crying.”


PHILSTAR

Mammoth crowd tops 1995 visit By Pia Lee-Brago (The Philippine Star) | Updated January 19, 2015 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


Photo by Boy Santos

MANILA, Philippines - Pope Francis wrapped up his last full day in the country yesterday in Rizal Park where an estimated six million rain-soaked Filipinos gathered for what a Vatican official said was the largest ever papal mass in the Philippines.

A steady rain from the same storm that forced Francis to cut short his visit to Tacloban on Saturday fell on the crowd, but it didn’t seem to dampen spirits of Filipinos who streamed into Rizal Park for the pope’s concluding Mass.

Organizers had expected that as many as 6 million people might turn out, surpassing the 5 million record set by St. John Paul II in the same park in 1995. With two hours to go before the start of Mass, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority chairman Francis Tolentino reported that 3 million had packed the park and surrounding streets.

But with a steady rain falling, people were seen turning around along one of the main boulevards leading to the park and heading away.

But most stayed on, braving the cold drizzle awaiting the arrival of Pope Francis, hoping just to catch a glimpse and blessed by the most popular pope in history.

Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi said based on the figure provided by local authorities, half of the crowd was inside Quirino Grandstand while the others were on the streets.

He said the number of people who attended the mass yesterday was “impressive” and a “wonderful celebration.

“Yes,” Lombardi said when asked if the mass in Rizal Park was the biggest ever.

President Aquino, Vice President Jejomar Binay along with other senior government officials that included Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima were at the grandstand to attend Mass.

According to Lombardi, between 6 and 7 million people attended the Mass – the crowd estimate given by Philippine authorities to the Vatican protocol.

The attendance at yesterday’s Mass, Lombardi said, was larger than the 2 million in the World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro 2013.

“In any case we have seen so many people and believe it is possible. If this is true it is good. This is the largest event of the history of the pope visit,” Lombardi said. -Edu Punay, Aie Balagtas See, Michael Punongbayan, Delon Porcalla, AP


PHILSTAR

Pope prays for female aid worker who died in Tacloban mass By Janvic Mateo (The Philippine Star) | Updated January 19, 2015 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


Pope Francis points at the statue of Jesus during his speech as he celebrates a Mass in Tacloban, Philippines. AP/Alessandra Tarantino

TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines – Pope Francis asked for prayers for the female volunteer who died following the papal mass held near the Daniel Z. Romualdez airport here last Saturday.

“I would like all of you, young like her, to pray for a moment in silence with me and then we pray to our mama, our lady, in heaven,” the pope said during a gathering with the youth at the University of Santo Tomas yesterday.

The pope was referring to Kristel May Padasas, who died after being struck in the head by steel scaffolding at the site of the mass shortly after Pope Francis left.

“She worked for the organization and preparation for that very mass. She was 27 years old, young like yourselves. She worked for Catholic Relief Services (CRS). She was a volunteer,” the pope said.

After praying for Padasas, the pontiff also called on those gathered to pray for her parents.

“She was an only daughter. Her mother is coming from Hong Kong. Her father is coming from Manila,” he said.

According to a report on ABS-CBNNews.com, Pope Francis has met with Pasadas’ father Paulino, who said that his brief conversation with the pontiff yesterday morning, which lasted about five minutes, was enough to lessen his grief.

The same report said the pope has given him three rosaries and two medallions with the image of the Sto. Niño.

According to CRS, Padasas was based in Samar and worked on a recovery project for Super Typhoon Yolanda.

“Her dedication to the people affected by the typhoon extended beyond her official work with CRS,” the group said in a statement. – With Alexis Romero


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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