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FULL TEXT: POPE FRANCIS' HOMILY AT THE MANILA CATHEDRAL MASS


“Do you love me?… Tend my sheep” (Jn 21:15-17). Jesus’ words to Peter in today’s Gospel are the first words I speak to you, dear brother bishops and priests, men and women religious, and young seminarians. These words remind us of something essential. All pastoral ministry is born of love. All consecrated life is a sign of Christ’s reconciling love. Like Saint Therese, in the variety of our vocations, each of us is called, in some way, to be love in the heart of the Church. CONTINUE READING...

ALSO: Muslims laud Pope for ‘Hebdo’ remarks


Morie Guiam, a college professor and peace worker here, said the magazine's surviving editors should learn from the Pope's message which he saw as a consoling remark to every Muslim hurt by the magazine's cartoons. In a statement, PCID president Amina Rasul said: "The violence that claimed the lives of 10 French journalists, ostensibly in the name of religion, is anathema to these universally held values of liberty, equality and brotherhood--concepts which are part of the fundamental tenets of Islam." READ FULL REPORT FROM THE INQUIRER...

ALSO: ‘Let God surprise you’
NO REPLY TO CHILD’S QUESTION IN UST


QUESTION WITHOUT ANSWER Pope Francis hugs 12-year-old Glyzelle Iris Palomar, a former street child. AP PHOTO/ALESSANDRA TARANTINO ‘Let God surprise you’ MANILA, Philippines—It was a child, 12-year-old Glyzelle Iris Palomar, who moved Pope Francis to discard his prepared statement at the “Encounter with the Youth” at University of Santo Tomas (UST) in Manila Sunday morning. Cutting short Palomar’s testimony when, overcome with emotion, she burst into tears after asking him why God allows children to suffer, the Pope said, “There is no answer.” Palomar had asked the Pope: “Many children are abandoned by their parents. Many of them became victims and bad things have happened to them, like drug addiction and prostitution. Why does God allow this to happen, even if the children are not at fault? Why is it that only a few people help them?”  READ MORE...

Small stories about a one-in-a-lifetime event


Pope Francis waves to the crowd upon his arrival at the University of Santo Tomas (UST) to give his traditional address to the youth at the UST football field. EDWIN BACASMAS
MANILA, Philippines–Many waited outside the University of Santo Tomas (UST) gates since 2 a.m. to get inside the campus in Manila by 7 a.m., a few hours before the arrival of Pope Francis for his encounter with the Filipino youth. A flood of people blocked all gates of the UST on Sunday dawn and the flock could only move forward inch by inch. At one point, there was pushing and shoving causing some pilgrims to be unruly. Medical teams on standby attended to Catholics who fell and fainted in the middle of the crowd. But Mae Borbon, a 22-year-old teacher from Batangas, said her thoughts about the chaos and disorder outside UST was immediately cleared away after she saw the Pope. REAAD MORE...

ALSO: A profound spiritual moment for devotees


Pilgrims wait in the rain for Pope Francis at the Quirino Grandstand in Luneta on Sunday. GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE MANILA, Philippines–Estrella Cruz, 38, could not explain how she felt when she saw Pope Francis pass by on the road where she and her three daughters had been waiting for hours for the papal motorcade. “I got goose bumps when he waved at us.”  Living on the sidewalks of Manila, Cruz said she scavenged for food and sometimes resorted to stealing so she could feed her three kids and ailing mother. Her husband died two years ago from a lung ailment. But on Sunday, as she and her children aged 7, 6 and 5, saw the Pope on his way to the University of Santo Tomas, after standing for hours on Taft Avenue, Cruz said she felt different. “I myself am surprised at how affected I was upon seeing the Pope. It felt as if my sins were already forgiven. It was overwhelming, I can’t describe it but tears were suddenly rolling down my cheeks,” she said, adding that it prompted her to proceed to Roxas Boulevard to again wait for the papal motorcade. CONTINUE READING...

ALSO: ‘Learn how to cry for the poor’ Pope rallies support for children in need, takes cudgels for women


SUNSHINE IN THE RAIN – No rains nor cold weather could keep the Filipinos from coming in the millions to greet Pope Francis at the University of Santo Tomas and Rizal Park on the final day of the Pontiff’s five-day State and Apostolic Visit. Pope Francis, visibly affected by a young girl who broke down and shed tears recounting how she lived a life of poverty, yesterday called on the world, including the Filipino faithful, to “learn how to cry” over the plight of the millions of poor, hungry, homeless, and abused children. The charismatic pontiff made the appeal during his homily at the “Encounter with the Youth” held at the University of Santo Tomas, the only remaining pontifical university in Asia, where a mammoth crowd, drenched and unfazed by the rains brought about by tropical storm “Amang,” waited for hours to take a glimpse of the pontiff and listen to his message. READ MORE...

ALSO: A DAY WITH THE YOUTH, Pope tells youth to work selflessly, honestly


A DAY WITH THE YOUTH --Pope Francis kisses the feet of an image of Jesus Christ before meeting with students at the University of Santo Tomas. PHOTO BY MIKE DE JUAN --Pope Francis on Sunday called on the youth to help renew society and build a better world by working selflessly and honestly. In his encounter with thousands of youth at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, the Holy Father extolled young Filipinos and urged them to build a better society. Amid thunderous applause, the pontiff started the program by sharing a bad news—the death of a young volunteer who was crushed by a falling scaffolding shortly after the Pope’s Mass in Tacloban City, Leyte, on Saturday. He urged the crowd to offer a moment of silent prayer for the victim, Cristel Padasas. The Pope then called on the youth “to think well, feel well and do well.” “I want to express the love and the hope of the church for you. Offer yourselves to the great works of renewing your society, hoping to build a better world,” Francis said.READ FULL REPORT...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

FULL TEXT: Pope Francis' Homily during the Manila Cathedral Mass

MANILA, JANUARY 19, 2015 (PHILSTAR) “Do you love me?… Tend my sheep” (Jn 21:15-17). Jesus’ words to Peter in today’s Gospel are the first words I speak to you, dear brother bishops and priests, men and women religious, and young seminarians. These words remind us of something essential. All pastoral ministry is born of love. All consecrated life is a sign of Christ’s reconciling love. Like Saint Therese, in the variety of our vocations, each of us is called, in some way, to be love in the heart of the Church.

I greet all of you with great affection. And I ask you to bring my affection to all your elderly and infirm brothers and sisters, and to all those who cannot join us today. As the Church in the Philippines looks to the fifth centenary of its evangelization, we feel gratitude for the legacy left by so many bishops, priests and religious of past generations. They labored not only to preach the Gospel and build up the Church in this country, but also to forge a society inspired by the Gospel message of charity, forgiveness and solidarity in the service of the common good. Today you carry on that work of love. Like them, you are called to build bridges, to pasture Christ’s flock, and to prepare fresh paths for the Gospel in Asia at the dawn of a new age.

“The love of Christ impels us” (2 Cor 5:14). In today’s first reading Saint Paul tells us that the love we are called to proclaim is a reconciling love, flowing from the heart of the crucified Savior. We are called to be “ambassadors for Christ” (2 Cor 5:20). Ours is a ministry of reconciliation. We proclaim the Good News of God’s infinite love, mercy and compassion. We proclaim the joy of the Gospel. For the Gospel is the promise of God’s grace, which alone can bring wholeness and healing to our broken world. It can inspire the building of a truly just and redeemed social order.

To be an ambassador for Christ means above all to invite everyone to a renewed personal encounter with the Lord Jesus (Evangelii Gaudium, 3). This invitation must be at the core of your commemoration of the evangelization of the Philippines. But the Gospel is also a summons to conversion, to an examination of our consciences, as individuals and as a people. As the Bishops of the Philippines have rightly taught, the Church in the Philippines is called to acknowledge and combat the causes of the deeply rooted inequality and injustice which mar the face of Filipino society, plainly contradicting the teaching of Christ. The Gospel calls individual Christians to live lives of honesty, integrity and concern for the common good. But it also calls Christian communities to create “circles of integrity”, networks of solidarity which can expand to embrace and transform society by their prophetic witness.

As ambassadors for Christ, we, bishops, priests and religious, ought to be the first to welcome his reconciling grace into our hearts. Saint Paul makes clear what this means. It means rejecting worldly perspectives and seeing all things anew in the light of Christ. It means being the first to examine our consciences, to acknowledge our failings and sins, and to embrace the path of constant conversion. How can we proclaim the newness and liberating power of the Cross to others, if we ourselves refuse to allow the word of God to shake our complacency, our fear of change, our petty compromises with the ways of this world, our “spiritual worldliness” (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 93)?

For us priests and consecrated persons, conversion to the newness of the Gospel entails a daily encounter with the Lord in prayer. The saints teach us that this is the source of all apostolic zeal! For religious, living the newness of the Gospel also means finding ever anew in community life and community apostolates the incentive for an ever closer union with the Lord in perfect charity. For all of us, it means living lives that reflect the poverty of Christ, whose entire life was focused on doing the will of the Father and serving others. The great danger to this, of course, is a certain materialism which can creep into our lives and compromise the witness we offer. Only by becoming poor ourselves, by stripping away our complacency, will we be able to identify with the least of our brothers and sisters. We will see things in a new light and thus respond with honesty and integrity to the challenge of proclaiming the radicalism of the Gospel in a society which has grown comfortable with social exclusion, polarization and scandalous inequality.

Here I would like to address a special word to the young priests, religious and seminarians among us. I ask you to share the joy and enthusiasm of your love for Christ and the Church with everyone, but especially with your peers. Be present to young people who may be confused and despondent, yet continue to see the Church as their friend on the journey and a source of hope. Be present to those who, living in the midst of a society burdened by poverty and corruption, are broken in spirit, tempted to give up, to leave school and to live on the streets. Proclaim the beauty and truth of the Christian message to a society which is tempted by confusing presentations of sexuality, marriage and the family. As you know, these realities are increasingly under attack from powerful forces which threaten to disfigure God’s plan for creation and betray the very values which have inspired and shaped all that is best in your culture.

Filipino culture has, in fact, been shaped by the imagination of faith. Filipinos everywhere are known for their love of God, their fervent piety and their warm devotion to Our Lady and her rosary. This great heritage contains a powerful missionary potential. It is the way in which your people has inculturated the Gospel and continues to embrace its message (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 122). In your efforts to prepare for the fifth centenary, build on this solid foundation.

Christ died for all so that, having died in him, we might live no longer for ourselves but for him (cf. 2 Cor 5:15). Dear brother bishops, priests and religious: I ask Mary, Mother of the Church, to obtain for all of you an outpouring of zeal, so that you may spend yourselves in selfless service to our brothers and sisters. In this way, may the reconciling love of Christ penetrate ever more fully into the fabric of Filipino society and, through you, to the farthest reaches of the world.


INQUIRER

Muslims laud Pope for ‘Hebdo’ remarks Nash B. Maulana @inquirerdotnet Inquirer Mindanao 5:54 AM | Monday, January 19th, 2015


Morie Guiam, a college professor and peace worker here, said the magazine's surviving editors should learn from the Pope's message which he saw as a consoling remark to every Muslim hurt by the magazine's cartoons. In a statement, PCID president Amina Rasul said: "The violence that claimed the lives of 10 French journalists, ostensibly in the name of religion, is anathema to these universally held values of liberty, equality and brotherhood--concepts which are part of the fundamental tenets of Islam."

COTABATO CITY, Philippines—Filipino Muslims have lauded Pope Francis for his indirect defense of Islam in the controversy over the French magazine Charlie Hebdo’s depiction of the Prophet Mohammed in its cartoons which resulted in the killing of 10 of the magazine’s editors and two policemen.

Morie Guiam, a college professor and peace worker here, said the magazine’s surviving editors should learn from the Pope’s message which he saw as a consoling remark to every Muslim hurt by the magazine’s cartoons.

Charlie Hebdo publishes cartoons that often ridicule not only the Prophet Mohammed but other prominent leaders as well, such as the Pope, US President Barack Obama and French President Francois Hollande, among others.

Guiam noted that, while the fatal attacks on Charlie Hebdo were unfortunate and condemnable, no one had made the magazine publish the offensive cartoons that drove the suspects to kill 12 people.

Cautioning against provocation, Pope Francis en route to the Philippines last Thursday told journalists on the plane the right to liberty of expression came with the obligation to speak for “the common good.”

He said that “there are limits to freedom of expression” and “one cannot make fun of faith.”

To illustrate his point, the Pontiff turned toward the Vatican official standing beside him and said: “If my good friend Dr. (Alberto) Gasparri (an organizer of his trips) says a curse word against my mother, he can expect a punch. It’s normal, it’s normal. You cannot provoke, you cannot insult the faith of others. You cannot make fun of the faith of others.”

On his Facebook page, Willy Junghan posted: “Finally the Pope said it. And Pope Francis is right. Just because there is freedom of speech or of the press or whatever freedom does not mean you can just do or say anything your little heart desires.

“That freedom does not give you the right to insult others in words or in (drawings). Always remember that some people can (tolerate) your rudeness in your speech or in your cartoons and some just cannot.”

Moro lawyer Suharto Ambolodto said Pope Francis’ statements could be viewed from a context other than “turn the other cheek (Matthew 5:39).”

Meanwhile, the Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy (PCID) bewailed the killing in Paris by a pair of brothers who shouted that they were doing it in defense of the Prophet.

In a statement, PCID president Amina Rasul said: “The violence that claimed the lives of 10 French journalists, ostensibly in the name of religion, is anathema to these universally held values of liberty, equality and brotherhood—concepts which are part of the fundamental tenets of Islam.”


INQUIRER

‘Let God surprise you’ NO REPLY TO CHILD’S QUESTION IN UST Leila B. Salaverria @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:59 AM | Monday, January 19th, 2015


QUESTION WITHOUT ANSWER Pope Francis hugs 12-year-old Glyzelle Iris Palomar, a former street child. AP PHOTO/ALESSANDRA TARANTINO

‘Let God surprise you’

MANILA, Philippines—It was a child, 12-year-old Glyzelle Iris Palomar, who moved Pope Francis to discard his prepared statement at the “Encounter with the Youth” at University of Santo Tomas (UST) in Manila Sunday morning.

Cutting short Palomar’s testimony when, overcome with emotion, she burst into tears after asking him why God allows children to suffer, the Pope said, “There is no answer.”

Palomar had asked the Pope: “Many children are abandoned by their parents. Many of them became victims and bad things have happened to them, like drug addiction and prostitution. Why does God allow this to happen, even if the children are not at fault? Why is it that only a few people help them?”

Palomar, one of four children who shared their experiences from life in the streets of Manila, broke down in tears and could not finish her prepared statement for the Pope.

Francis had no answer to her question. But he enfolded her in his arm, discarded his prepared speech in English 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,” Francis told the estimated 30,000 rain-soaked young people on the UST grounds.

“Certain realities in life we only see through eyes that are cleansed with tears. I invite each one here to ask yourselves, have I learned how to weep, to cry?” the Pope said.

“If you don’t learn how to cry, you cannot be a good Christian,” he said.

The Pope also embraced 14-year-old Jun Chura, another former street kid who spoke about the plight of abandoned children.

The children came from the Church-run shelter Tulay ng Kabataan Foundation, which rescued them from the streets where they once lived by begging and scavenging dumps for scraps of thrown-away food.

Turning to the crowd of young people, the Pontiff exhorted them to “passionately and honestly” join efforts to help build a better world and express the Church’s love and hope for them.

Not only young people were there to see the Pope. Older people were there, the lame and the sick seeking healing, who were drawn to him like innocent children.

Eufracia Osorio, 73, has trouble walking, but she joined the thousands of people who held a vigil outside the university gates, braving the cold and the rain to get a glimpse of the Pope.

Leaning on a walker, Osorio, together with her family, waited near the gate to the university on España Boulevard but learned later that they could no longer be accommodated inside.

“I was here as early as 4 a.m. and my grandchild has been waiting since last night,” she said.

Still, she waited for the Pope under a tree in the rain, praying the rosary.

Young people’s questions

Earlier, policemen tried to close the stretch of España overlooking the university’s Arch of the Centuries, where the Pope met briefly with the Philippines religious leaders. But they failed to contain the thick crowd that insisted on staying to see the Pope.

“We stayed because it’s good luck to see the Pope,” said Maricris Suico, who brought her little daughter Phoebe who had been asking for days to see the Pope.

The questions the youth representatives raised centered on the ordeals faced by children, the distractions from new technology and an unlimited source of information, and how to cope with success while still being merciful and compassionate.

The Pope said the world lacked the capacity to cry. Many do not understand the situations that those in the margins of society face, he said.

“Be courageous, please don’t be frightened of crying,” he said.

He also spoke out against a “worldly compassion,” saying it was “useless” when it only prompted one to reach into one’s pocket to give something to the poor.

“If Christ had had that kind of compassion, he would have walked by, just greeted three people, giving them something and moved on. But it’s only when Christ cried and was able to cry that he understood our lives,” he said.

Information overload

The Pope also addressed a generation growing up in an age overloaded with information and different means of communication, addressing a request for guidance from law student Leandro Santos II on how to keep values intact in this day and how to love truly.

All these advances are not necessarily bad, the Pope said, but the youth must not become “young museums” or mere repositories of information, not knowing what to do with them.

The Gospel offers a way forward in letting information bear fruit, which is to use the language of the mind, of the heart, and of the hand in harmony, he said.

“What you think you must feel and put into effect,” he said. “To think, to feel, and to do.”

How to love

The Pope also said the most important subject the youth must learn is how to love.

“This is the great challenge life offers you, to learn how to love. Not just acquiring information without knowing what to do with it, but through that love let that information bear fruit,” he said.

Real love, he said, is about “loving and letting yourself be loved,” though allowing oneself to be loved does not come easy.

“That is why it is so difficult to come to the perfect love of God. We can love Him but we must let ourselves be loved by Him. Real love is being open to the love that comes to you. The love that surprises us. If you only have information you are not surprised,” he said.

Computer psychology

He called on the young people not to have a “computer psychology” that makes them think they know everything.

“All answers on computers, but no surprises. The challenge of love. God reveals himself through surprises,” he added.

Surprises, he said, may shake up our world, but they move us in the right direction, he said.

“Allow yourselves to be surprised by God. Don’t be afraid of surprises. They shake the ground beneath our feet and make us insecure, but they move us forward in the right direction,” the Pontiff said.

Learn to be a beggar

He said it was important for young people to learn to be beggars.

He made the statements in response to questions from Rikki Macolor, who invented a solar night light for victims of Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan). Among his questions was how to be successful without being blinded by petty pursuits, and how to be agents of mercy and compassion.

Helping others is commendable, but one must learn to receive from others as well, the Pope said. Who may have much could be enriched from this experience, he added.

“This isn’t easy to understand: To learn how to beg. To learn how to receive with humility. To learn to be evangelized by the poor, those that we help, those who are infirm, orphans, they have so much to offer us,” he said.

“And this is what helps you mature in your commitment to give to others, to learn how to offer out your hand, from your very own poverty,” he said.

Reality is superior

Remembering the prepared speech that he had discarded, the Pope said: “Sorry, I haven’t read what I prepared for you, but I’m consoled. Reality is superior to ideas. And the reality that you all have is superior to the paper in front of me.”

But Francis mentioned some of the points he had wanted to make, such as the challenge of integrity, concern for the poor, and of caring for the environment.

He said that the Philippines more than any other country is likely to be seriously affected by climate change.

Before the start of the liturgical program, the Pope went on a lengthy ride around the university campus despite the rain. His white, open popemobile passed through several precleared pathways around the football field, enabling a greater number of participants to see him up close.

Of course, they whipped out their camera phones and snapped away.

Francis also made a couple of stops to kiss and bless at least six babies and toddlers.–With reports from Rina Jimenez David, Chito de la Vega, Nina P. Calleja, Jocelyn R. Uy, and wires


INQUIRER

Small stories about a one-in-a-lifetime event Chito de la Vega, Niña P. Calleja and Jocelyn R. Uy | Philippine Daily Inquirer 4:09 AM | Monday, January 19th, 2015


Pope Francis waves to the crowd upon his arrival at the University of Santo Tomas (UST) to give his traditional address to the youth at the UST football field. EDWIN BACASMAS

MANILA, Philippines–Many waited outside the University of Santo Tomas (UST) gates since 2 a.m. to get inside the campus in Manila by 7 a.m., a few hours before the arrival of Pope Francis for his encounter with the Filipino youth.

A flood of people blocked all gates of the UST on Sunday dawn and the flock could only move forward inch by inch.

At one point, there was pushing and shoving causing some pilgrims to be unruly. Medical teams on standby attended to Catholics who fell and fainted in the middle of the crowd.

But Mae Borbon, a 22-year-old teacher from Batangas, said her thoughts about the chaos and disorder outside UST was immediately cleared away after she saw the Pope.

“We waited outside for more than five hours. But when we saw him, the exhaustion from the lack of sleep was gone,” she told the Inquirer.

The drizzle on Sunday morning did not dampen the pilgrims’ enthusiasm. One student said in jest: “Thank God, this is holy water.”

Vigil on España

Policemen initially restricted the area on España Boulevard overlooking UST’s Arch of the Centuries, where the Pope met briefly with the country’s religious leaders. But they failed to contain the thick crowd bursting with excitement and anticipation.

Eufracia Osorio, 73, had trouble walking but she was among the hundreds of thousands of people who kept vigil outside the campus.

Osorio, who came with her daughter and a grandchild studying at the university, initially hoped that she could get inside the campus since organizers of the youth rally had announced that students and the alumni and their companions would be allowed to enter for the event.

Assisted by a walker, Osorio and her family waited near one of the gates of the school on España Boulevard, but they later learned that they could no longer be accommodated inside. “I was here as early as 4 a.m. and my grandchild has been waiting since last night,” she said. Still, she waited for the Pope under a tree in the rain, praying the rosary.

Perched on trees

Joyce Bennett, who is 6 months’ pregnant, also endured the edgy crowd outside so she could see Francis and pray for a safe delivery. “I am not scared to go out here because I really want to see the Pope,” she said.

Like Bennett, everyone else who gathered on España, longed to see the Pope. Some were so desperate that they even asked permission from the police if they could climb the trees lining the sidewalk.

Others did not wait for the go-signal. Oblivious to the cold rain, they perched on the trees for hours until the Pope exited the university.

ID for Jorge

A street kid gave Pope Francis a UST ID card, complete with his full name Jorge Mario Bergoglio and a special No. 16112015-001.

The young boy, Jun Chura, put the ID lace on the Pope, who lowered his head and warmly accepted it. Unlike the common UST IDs that feature a 1 x 1 size photo, the identification card of His Holiness has a picture of him smiling and his hand raised in a wave.

The ID gives the 78-year-old Argentinian Pontiff an “Administration” position.

Early at the Arch

Riding a black-covered Volkswagen Touran, the Pope arrived 20 minutes early for a brief meeting with religious leaders of various faiths. The photo opportunity was held with the UST iconic Arch of the Centuries as backdrop.

The crowd cheered wildly when the Pope was heading toward the open white popemobile.

At 10 a.m., as he began his speech, the rains started to pour. Hardly any of the young people at the football field or those all over the campus and even those in the streets surrounding the campus left their place.

Francis asked the crowd to forgive him for dispensing with his prepared English speech. “My English is not very good. May I do it in Spanish?” He added: Fr. Mark (Gerard Miles) “is a very good translator.”

Stroke survivor

Imelda Victoria, a stroke survivor, also came to see the beloved Argentine Pontiff despite the youth rally being an “invitation only” event.

“I want to see the Pope because he has this certain kind of effect. When you see him you will feel happy and light as if your sins have all been forgiven,” she said.

Carrying her 6-year-old daughter, who was running a fever, Maricris Suico did not budge from where she was standing despite admonitions from policemen so she could grant her child’s wish to see the Holy Father.

“She slept very late last night watching the news about the Pope and she also woke up at 4 a.m. today,” Suico said of her daughter. Despite the fever, Phoebe did not go home until she got a quick glimpse of the beloved Pope.

“We stayed because it’s good luck to see the Pope,” Suico added.–With reports from Julliane Love de Jesus, Maile Ager of Inquirer.net


INQUIRER

A profound spiritual moment for devotees Dona Z. Pazzibugan and Christine O. Avendaño, Gil Cabacungan, Jovic Yee, Julie M. Aurelio, Marlon Ramos, Nathaniel R. Melican, Tina G. Santos | Philippine Daily Inquirer 3:51 AM | Monday, January 19th, 2015


Pilgrims wait in the rain for Pope Francis at the Quirino Grandstand in Luneta on Sunday. GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE

MANILA, Philippines–Estrella Cruz, 38, could not explain how she felt when she saw Pope Francis pass by on the road where she and her three daughters had been waiting for hours for the papal motorcade. “I got goose bumps when he waved at us.”

Living on the sidewalks of Manila, Cruz said she scavenged for food and sometimes resorted to stealing so she could feed her three kids and ailing mother. Her husband died two years ago from a lung ailment.

But on Sunday, as she and her children aged 7, 6 and 5, saw the Pope on his way to the University of Santo Tomas, after standing for hours on Taft Avenue, Cruz said she felt different.

“I myself am surprised at how affected I was upon seeing the Pope. It felt as if my sins were already forgiven. It was overwhelming, I can’t describe it but tears were suddenly rolling down my cheeks,” she said, adding that it prompted her to proceed to Roxas Boulevard to again wait for the papal motorcade.

At the regular press briefing on Saturday, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle said those who shed tears when they see the Pope could be experiencing a profound spiritual moment.

Gift of tears

“In Christian tradition there is a thing called the gift of tears,” the cardinal said. He added that people who experienced the divine and profound expressed the moment by shedding tears.

Cruz, clad in a raincoat she fashioned out of plastic trash, said she would go to Luneta (Rizal Park) for the papal Mass.

The rains did not stop devotees, many of whom came from other parts of the country, from trooping to Rizal Park to hear the Mass celebrated by the Pontiff.

“I am not afraid of the rain. I’ll be here despite the storm,” said Abegail Trinidad, 36, a call center agent from Laguna.

“This is history and this will probably be my last chance to see a pope in person,” said Belen Angeles, 65, from Pampanga, who came with her husband who has been battling cancer for years now.

“I’m praying that he gets better when he sees the Pope. I hope he’ll be able to bless my husband.”

Many others, however, were disappointed because they were unable to get near the stage at Quirino Grandstand because they were unable to enter the barricaded area.

Renato Santiago, 66, from Pampanga, left his home at around 5 a.m. with his son and four grandchildren.

They arrived in Luneta past 7 a.m. and they immediately lined up at the Maria Orosa entrance to enter the barricaded area of Luneta but eventually gave up.

Injuries in jostling

The sheer volume of people wanting to hear Pope Francis’ Mass at Rizal Park led some impatient early birds to push their way into the venue on Sunday morning and get the best spot at the front.

Some people sustained minor injuries in the jostling and shoving near the Maria Orosa Avenue entrance, where two layers of security checks were set up for the historic Mass.

The commotion prompted the Philippine National Police to open the gates earlier than the 6 a.m. schedule to ease the pressure of thousands of people wanting to get in.

From an initial 50 entrances, 75 entrances were set up on Orosa Avenue to accommodate the attendees. Ground commanders decided to open the gates early by an hour or two so that the 50 quadrants in front of the Quirino Grandstand would be occupied.

To allow people outside the Luneta to watch the Mass, 40 video walls around the park and on trucks were set up for the event.

Sea of faith

Even battle-scarred police officials were moved by the throng of people who braved the rains, walked several kilometers and squeezed through the crowd to attend the Mass celebrated by Pope Francis at Rizal Park. A number of them were children and elderly.

“What we’re seeing today is a sea of faith,” said Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina, PNP officer in charge. “Anybody will have goose bumps just witnessing the group of people walking toward Luneta to attend the Mass.”

Pedestrian traffic

Interior Secretary Mar Roxas directed pedestrian traffic from 8 a.m. to 12 noon at Maria Orosa Avenue, which served as the main entrance point for people coming from the east side of Luneta and Taft Avenue.

Several fainted during the long wait and the crush of crowd exiting the site but medical personnel were quick to respond.

Octogenarian

Epifanio Reserva, 84, braved the throng of people as he arrived at 6 a.m. from his home in Tanay, Rizal. “This is my third papal Mass in Luneta. I was here both times when Pope John Paul II held Mass in Luneta (1981 and 1995). I was younger and stronger then, but I’m far wiser now and closer to God,” said Reserva who used to work in a lumberyard.

He was one of the few elderly and disabled allowed by security on the motorcade route. “I remember that it was hot and sunny then. This is the first time it rained. But I don’t mind.”

From Masbate

Purita Gilutin, 68, came all the way from Masbate to attend the Sunday Mass. She came alone and felt lucky that good-hearted police personnel allowed her out of the swarm of people to get a front view of the Pope motorcade.

“They thought I needed medical attention. But I told them I was only asking to get a better view of the Pope. I just want to see him with my eyes,” said Gilutin. She came with a bag and a hat and nothing more. The police shared an extra blue rain coat and this made her feel even more blessed.

Gilutin said she hoped the Pope would bless her with good health and good fortune for her seven children.

On wheelchair

Beverly Sagrario, 86, was also chosen to sit at the street corner. She was visibly elated with the opportunity. This was her first time to see the Pope.

She had to go to the comfort room after hours of sitting on her wheel chair waiting for the Pope but she came back in time with just minutes to spare before the popemobile came gliding by.

Double amputee

Angie de Ramos, 34, a double amputee who uses her feet to paint, was with a group of sisters from Hospicio de San Jose led by Sister Marites Buensuceso.

Angie brought her painting of the Pope. Her group looked like it was going on a picnic and was in a gay mood.

Once in a lifetime

“It’s a once in a lifetime experience” was the common reason given by those who stayed on despite the rain at Rizal Park to hear Pope Francis’ culminating Mass.

“We’ve been here since 7 a.m.,” said 61-year-old Salvacion, who found a good corner at the Lapu-Lapu Monument where she and her 65-year-old husband sat and listened intently to the Mass that started at around 3 p.m.

The couple, who donned ponchos and brought an umbrella for added protection, said that they didn’t mind the rain and the hours-long wait because “we might not be alive the next time a pope visits the country.”

The couple first encountered the Vicar of Christ when then Pope, now Saint, John Paul II celebrated the World Youth Day Mass at the same venue in 1995. Salvacion said that during that time, they heard the Mass at the park’s Japanese Garden.

And while the couple didn’t have the opportunity to get as close as possible to the third pontiff to visit the country, she said that “what’s important is that we feel blessed.”

Babies

Many families who came to see Pope Francis in Luneta brought with them their children, some as young as babies, and did not leave even when the rains began midday.

One-year-old Khrea Venice del Rosario was brought by her mother and grandparents from Cavite, reaching Roxas Boulevard corner Kalaw Avenue by 5 a.m.

Champagne Amador, 16, from Parañaque had no complaint despite the long wait in the rain. To get past the thick crowd, she climbed a tree on Roxas Boulevard (near the corner UN Avenue) where she was perched when Pope Francis zoomed past.

For sick mother

“It’s for Mama. She’s sick. She can’t walk very well,” said the shivering teenager who along with her family began their wait for the Pope at 5 a.m.

Her cousin Dana Joan Amador, 9, was standing with several others on a truck parked on Roxas Boulevard when she saw Pope Francis pass by. “It’s for my tita (aunt),” she said.

The two girls saw the Pope for the first time, and were unmindful of being soaked to the skin. “I was screaming. I shouted, ‘Hello Lolo Kiko!’” Champagne said. “I felt happy. I waved to him,” Dana said.

Jane Bernabe brought her son Wacky, 10, and daughter Carla, 8, to Luneta so they could “feel [the] holiness” of the Pope.

What struck her the most in the Pope’s visit was his “effort to go to Tacloban,” despite the unfavorable weather conditions.

Bernabe said that she was reduced to tears when the Pope delivered an impromptu speech to the survivors of the storm, which left more than 6,000 dead and at least 3,000 missing.

“I may not have experienced what they went through but I felt their pain. And it’s something that I don’t want to happen to my family,” she said.

Unlike most families who attended the Mass, Arnold Alido and Len Alimoro are unmarried as they are live-in partners. Despite their status, Arnold said they felt they had to come and see Pope Francis say Mass.

“We just thought of going here over the past few days,” Arnold said. “I can’t give you an answer why, but we just felt we had to. He’s the Pope, after all, and we hope to get his blessing.”

Nicita Denso did not mind the rain that soaked her back and feet despite her heavy sweater and rubber shoes as she stood patiently all throughout the final Mass of Pope Francis in the country.

“This is a rare occasion,” said the over 40-year-old Denso, an employee of a company that offers foreign magazine subscriptions, who after hearing Mass and standing in the cold for four hours whispered a prayer of thanks that everything went on smoothly.

Denso said she had prayed she would be able to inch her way to Quirino Grandstand before Pope Francis holds the Mass.

She ended up along with thousands of others at the Lapu-Lapu monument, as dazed as the others on how to reach the grandstand given the flock of people equally battling for space this time for a better view of the widescreen put up there.


MANILA BULLETIN

‘Learn how to cry for the poor’ Pope rallies support for children in need, takes cudgels for women by Hannah L. Torregoza & Reuters January 19, 2015 Share this:


SUNSHINE IN THE RAIN – No rains nor cold weather could keep the Filipinos from coming in the millions to greet Pope Francis at the University of Santo Tomas and Rizal Park on the final day of the Pontiff’s five-day State and Apostolic Visit.

Pope Francis, visibly affected by a young girl who broke down and shed tears recounting how she lived a life of poverty, yesterday called on the world, including the Filipino faithful, to “learn how to cry” over the plight of the millions of poor, hungry, homeless, and abused children.

The charismatic pontiff made the appeal during his homily at the “Encounter with the Youth” held at the University of Santo Tomas, the only remaining pontifical university in Asia, where a mammoth crowd, drenched and unfazed by the rains brought about by tropical storm “Amang,” waited for hours to take a glimpse of the pontiff and listen to his message.

During the rally with the youth, 12-year-old Glyzelle Iris Palomar asked the Pope: “Many children are abandoned by their parents. Many of them became victims and bad things have happened to them, like drug addiction and prostitution. Why does God allow this to happen, even if the children are not at fault? Why is it that only a few people help us?”

WHY DO CHILDREN SUFFER?

Palomar, who was rescued and has now found shelter at the Tulay ng Kabataan Foundation, which the pontiff visited last January 16 shortly after celebrating mass at the Manila Cathedral, wept as she read her testimony on her experiences as an abandoned street child. She, however, could not finish her prepared welcome.

The girl, who was rescued and has found shelter in a Church-run community, broke down in tears and could not finish her prepared welcome. The Pope hugged her and later put aside most of his own prepared speech to respond.

“She is the only one who has put forward a question for which there is no answer and she was not even able to express it in words but rather in tears,” he said, visibly moved.

“Why do children suffer?” the Argentine Pope asked, speaking in his native Spanish. An aide translated his words from his native Spanish into English for the crowd of about 30,000 young people on the UST grounds.

“I invite each one of you to ask yourselves, ‘Have I learned how to weep, how to cry when I see a hungry child, a child on the street who uses drugs, a homeless child, an abandoned child, an abused child, a child that society uses as a slave’?” he said.

Chura talked about life as a former street dweller.

In a touching gesture, Pope Francis, who received a bracelet that he immediately wore from Palomar and Chura, hugged the two children tightly and blessed them.

Children can be seen living on the streets of Metro Manila, like in many poor countries in Asia, surviving by begging and picking through garbage in vast dumps.

The United Nations says 1.2-million children live on the streets in the Philippines. According to the Child Protection Network Foundation, 35.1 percent of children were living in poverty in 2009, the last year such data was available. Nearly 33 percent of Filipinos live in slums.

reach up to take photos of the Pope as he entered the UST campus while the papal jeepney stops to allow His Holiness reach up to take photos of the Pope as he entered the UST campus while the papal jeepney stops to allow His Holiness Two other youth representatives, Leonard Santos II and Rikki Macolor, told Pope Francis of the problems facing the youth, particularly on materialism and worldly information.

Santos talked about the values of today’s youth and asked how the youth can take time out to listen to God. Macolor shared his experiences as a volunteer for calamity survivors and asked how the youth can be agents of compassion.

EMPATHIZE WITH THE POOR

In response, Pope Francis dared the youth from the Philippines, where a fourth of the population are part of the poorest of the poor, to empathize with the poor and the marginalized.

“The marginalized, those who were left to the one side are left crying. Those who are discarded, those (people) are crying,” the Pontiff said.

“We need to ask ourselves: Have we learned how to weep, how to cry, for somebody left to the sides, for someone who has a drug problem?” he asked.

“When the heart is able to ask itself, and cry then we can understand something,” he added.

He pointed out that today’s world lacked the capacity to learn how to empathize with the poor and the underprivileged.

Worldly compassion, he said, has taken over much of society and urged the Filipino youth to learn selfless giving much like what Jesus Christ had done.

“There is a worldly compassion which is useless. You spoke something of this. It’s a compassion which moreover leads us to put our hand in our pocket to give something to someone to the poor,” he said.

“If Christ had that kind of compassion, He would have bought something for people and moved on. But it’s only when Christ cried, he’s capable to cry, that he understood what’s going on in our lives,” he said.

“Dear girls and boys, dear young people, today’s world has a great lack of capacity of knowing how to cry,” he warned.

Pope Francis pointed out that Jesus, in the Gospels, cried for his dead friend, for the families that lost a child, for a poor widow.

“He was moved to tears, to compassion when he saw the multitude of crowds without a pastor,” he said.

“If you don’t learn how to cry, you can’t be good Christians. This is a challenge,” he stressed, adding that those who are courageous should not be frightened of crying.

LEARN TO BECOME BEGGARS

In response to Macolor’s question, Pope Francis exhorted that those who are in a position to give should also learn the value of being given.

Citing the same question Jesus asked the rich young man in the Bible, Pope Francis said: “You lack only one thing: to become a beggar.”

“Jesus had to come to allow himself to feel compassion, to be loved. How many young people among you are like this? You know how to give and yet you haven’t learned yet how to receive? You lack only one thing: to become a beggar. Become a beggar; this is what you lack, to learn how to beg,” he explained.

“It isn’t easy to understand to learn how to beg, to learn how to receive with humility, to learn to be evangelized by the poor, by those orphans. They have so much to offer us,” said Francis who visited the 30 victims of the super-typhoon “Yolanda” and the earthquake in Bohol during his visit to Tacloban last Saturday.

Francis vowed to dedicate Sunday’s mass to the victims of the natural calamities that struck the Philippines.

“Ask yourself, do I feel so sufficient that I feel I have always something to offer and think you have no need of anything? Do you know that you too are poor? Do you know your poverty and the need that you (should) receive? Do you let yourselves be evangelized by those you serve? To learn to offer your hand from your very own poverty?” he pointed out.

Pope Francis likewise called on the Filipino faithful to enhance the role of women as he criticized the role of machismo and the tendency of society not to make room for women.

“Sometimes we are too machistas and we don’t allow room for women. Women are able to pose questions that men are not able to understand,” Pope Francis told the mammoth crowd that gathered as early as Saturday night.

The pontiff noted there were more men than women in the crowd and that it was a little girl who was able to move everyone.

“Women have much to tell us in today’s society. At times we are too ‘machista’ and don’t allow room for women,” he said, using the Spanish term for male chauvinist, eliciting laughter from the crowd.

“But women are capable of seeing things with a different angle from us, with a different eye, and pose questions that we men are not able to understand … so when the next Pope comes to Manila, let’s please have more women among you,” he said.

POPE TACKLES ENVIRONMENT

Pope Francis also waded into the global debate on climate change and the environment, saying in the text of a speech that man was destroying nature and betraying God’s calling to be stewards of creation.

Francis offered his thoughts about the environment and climate change for the second time in four days at a rally with young people at a Manila university on the last full day of a week-long Asian tour that has taken him to Sri Lanka and the Philippines.

He did not read all of a speech prepared for delivery at UST, improvising after he was moved by the story of the abandoned girl. When he does this, the Vatican says the prepared text is official.

“As stewards of God’s creation, we are called to make the earth a beautiful garden for the human family. When we destroy our forests, ravage our soil, and pollute our seas, we betray that noble calling,” he said in the text.

Another line he read to the crowd noted that “this country, more than many others, is likely to be seriously affected by climate change.”

His comments came a day after he made a dramatic visit to Tacloban City, ground zero of super-typhoon “Yolanda,” which killed at least 6,300 people, left a million homeless and displaced 4 million more when it struck in November 2013.

In Tacloban, Francis wore a transparent poncho to protect him from strong wind and driving rain and had to cut short his visit by four hours to get out of the way of a tropical storm.

“Respect for the environment means more than simply using cleaner products or recycling what we use. These are important aspects, but not enough,” he said in the written speech.

“We need to see, with the eyes of faith, the beauty of God’s saving plan, the link between the natural environment and the dignity of the human person,” it said.

MAN MOSTLY RESPONSIBLE

Sri Lanka, which the Pope had earlier visited, is among the Asian countries experts say will see sea level rises likely to displace people and adversely affect tourism and fisheries.

Speaking to reporters aboard the plane taking him to Manila on Thursday, Francis said he believed that man was primarily responsible for climate change and that he hoped the United Nations climate meeting in Paris in November would take a courageous stand to protect the environment.

“I don’t know if it is all (man’s fault) but the majority is, for the most part, it is man who continuously slaps nature in the face,” he said.

Those words were his clearest to date on climate change, which has sparked worldwide debate and even divided conservative and liberal Catholics, particularly in the United States, on whether it is man-made.

The Pope told reporters that his long-awaited encyclical on the environment was almost finished and that he hoped it would be published in June, ahead of the UN meeting in Paris.

Last month in Peru, about 190 nations agreed on the building blocks of a global deal to combat climate change amid warnings that far tougher action would be needed to limit increases in global temperatures.

Under the deal reached in Lima, governments will submit national plans for reining in greenhouse gas emissions by an informal deadline of March 31 to form the basis of a global agreement due at the Paris summit. Francis faulted the Peru conference for not doing enough about climate change.

VOLUNTEER HONORED

Before starting his homily, Pope Francis asked thousands of Filipino youth gathered to offer a moment of silence for the 27-year-old volunteer who died in Tacloban City last Saturday.

The volunteer, Kristel Mae Padasas, died after a strong wind caused a scaffolding near the altar to fall on her. Pope Francis had just celebrated a mass when the accident happened.

“She worked for the organization and preparation for that very mass. She was 27 years old, young like yourselves. She worked for those Catholic relief services, a volunteer worker,” the Pope said.

Pope Francis offered one Hail Mary for Kristel and one Our Father for her parents.

“Let us also pray for her parents. She was the only daughter. Her mom is coming from Hong Kong and father come to Manila to wait,” he said. (With reports from Ellalyn B. De Vera, Christina I. Hermoso, JC Bello Ruiz, Samuel P. Medenilla, Francis T. Wakefield, Ina Hernando Malipot, and Francis T. Wakefield)


MANILA TIMES

Pope to youth: Work selflessly, honestly January 18, 2015 10:26 pm by Jaime R. Pilapil REPORTER


A DAY WITH THE YOUTH: Pope Francis kisses the feet of an image of Jesus Christ before meeting with students at the University of Santo Tomas. PHOTO BY MIKE DE JUAN

Pope Francis on Sunday called on the youth to help renew society and build a better world by working selflessly and honestly.

In his encounter with thousands of youth at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, the Holy Father extolled young Filipinos and urged them to build a better society.

Amid thunderous applause, the pontiff started the program by sharing a bad news—the death of a young volunteer who was crushed by a falling scaffolding shortly after the Pope’s Mass in Tacloban City, Leyte, on Saturday. He urged the crowd to offer a moment of silent prayer for the victim, Cristel Padasas.

The Pope then called on the youth “to think well, feel well and do well.” “I want to express the love and the hope of the church for you. Offer yourselves to the great works of renewing your society, hoping to build a better world,” Francis said.

He also reminded young people to show compassion to the poor. “Do you think for the poor? Do you live for the poor? Do you ask the poor to give you the wisdom that they might have?” the pontiff said. ”Do you do something for the poor?” the Pope added.

The Holy Father said the young people must learn the language of thinking, feeling and doing well.
The Pope, whose visit in the Philippines revolved on the theme mercy and compassion, told his audience that they should learn how to cry with the poor and suffering people.

He said superficial compassion, which resulted in just giving alms, shown by many in the world, was not enough.

“If Christ had that kind of compassion, he would have just walked by, greeted three people, given them something and moved on,” Francis noted.

The pontiff called on the young people to show tangible, genuine concern for the poor and marginalized.

“(There are) certain realities in life, we only see through eyes that are cleansed with our tears,” he said.

“Let us learn how to weep. Jesus cried for his friend, when a family lost a child, when he saw the poor widow burying her son, he was moved to tears when he saw a crowd,” the Pope added.

“If you don’t learn how to cry, your are not a good Christian. This is a challenge,” the pontiff said.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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