PHNO HEADLINE NEWS THIS WEEK

FILIPINO BISHOP: POPE'S 'RABBIT' REMARK MISUNDERSTOOD


Pope Francis waves at a crowd of young people at the University of Santo Tomas on Sunday, Jan. 18, 2015 in Manila, Philipines. Jonathan Asuncion MANILA, Philippines — The head of Philippine bishops on Wednesday issued a clarification of Pope Francis' call for responsible parenting, slamming reports that he compared Catholics to rabbits. "The Pope NEVER made the rather unseemly remark that Catholics breed like rabbits," Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said in a statement. "What the Pope DID SAY was that some Catholics mistakenly believe that to be Catholic, we ought to breed like rabbits—and prior to using that simile, he knew that it was harsh and so said 'excuse the expression'—but it was apt and it brought home the point," Villegas, who is also president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, added. Villegas encouraged readers to refer to the transcript of the interview of Pope Francis aboard the Philippine Airlines plane en route to Rome on Monday. READ FULL REPORT...

CBCP chief to Pope bashers: Leave ‘rabbits’ in peace
Archbishop Socrates Villegas ----This was the appeal of Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines president Archbishop Socrates Villegas to those criticizing Pope Francis' statement on responsible parenthood. Villegas, who is also Lingayen-Dagupan archbishop, stressed in a statement on Wednesday that the Pope never made a remark to the effect that Catholics breed like rabbits. "The Pope NEVER made the rather unseemly remark that Catholics breed like rabbits... What the Pope DID SAY was that some Catholics mistakenly believe that to be Catholic, we ought to breed like rabbits – and prior to using that simile, he knew that it was harsh and so said 'excuse the expression' – but it was apt and it brought home the point," he said. CONTINUE READING...

ALSO: Luneta emcee apologizes for 'noisy' cheers


Crowds raise images of the Christ Child, locally known as the Santo Niño, during the Mass at Rizal Park celebrated by Pope Francis in Manila, Philippines on Sunday, Jan. 18, 2015. RP Ocampo MANILA, Philippines — The priest who served as master of ceremonies after the Papal Mass, which drew record crowds at Rizal Park last Sunday, apologized for supposedly ruining the solemnity of the affair. Father Hans Magdurulang, who serves in Makati City, admitted that he may have committed a mistake for cheering and leading the chants loudly over the microphone after Pope Francis celebrated Mass and was leaving the grounds riding the Popemobile. He said he discovered that he is being "bashed" on social media following the event for his repeated off-beat chants, for which he is heartily sorry. READ FULL REPORT...

(ALS0) Bishop: We do not serve presidents


Bishop Ramon B. Villena ---
Bishop Ramon Villena of the Diocese of Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya, strongly criticized President Benigno Aquino 3rd for his “reckless” accusations against the Church during Pope Francis’ courtesy call in Malacañang. “What was supposed to have been an occasion filled with grace and truth turned out to be an embarrassing and a distressing affair, because President Aquino imprudently seized the opportunity to vent his disappointment that the Catholic hierarchy has not sided with him—in the presence of the Holy Father and of the highest ranking ecclesiastics in the country,” Villena said. The bishop noted that he issued a public statement because Aquino’s “accusations cannot be made to pass without refutation and rebuttal.”  “He complains principally, that the clergy have been silent in the face of what he characterizes as the misdeeds, the malfeasance and the misfeasance the previous administration —referring of course to the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo,” Villena said. “But that is exactly the trouble with Mr. Aquino: his lack of regard for judicial processes and his blatant disrespect of the judicial system,” he added. READ MORE...

ALSO: ‘Noy just telling the truth’ - Coloma


AQUINO ---
MANILA, Philippines - Presidential Communications Operations Office chief Herminio Coloma Jr. yesterday defended President Aquino’s remark against some bishops when the Chief Executive welcomed Pope Francis at Malacañang last Friday. Aquino reported the biases of some bishops identified with the administrations of former Presidents Ferdinand Marcos and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. “It is a personal testimony of someone who experienced the events he was talking about and became President and as a leader of a country that was welcoming the pope,” Coloma said, parrying netizens’ sentiments. He said the President’s statement was truthful and was meant to tell the truth. “The speech was a truth-telling statement. If we review the entire text, we will understand the context. It was a narrative that is historically accurate and truthful and there is no singling out of any personality or any group,” he said. Aquino took the rare opportunity with the pope to report some bishops whom he believes took sides during the Marcos and Arroyo administrations. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: Lessons from a visit


PHOTO: MAN SELLING POPE CALENDAR DURING PAPAL VISIT
It had to take a papal visit for Filipinos to find out how blissful it is when politicians and other epals stay out of sight.
Those requests from Church officials for epals to stay away and not exploit the visit for partisan purposes worked miracles. This was followed by a request from the Vatican not to use the pope’s image on streamers, depriving epals of another opportunity for displaying their names ostensibly to welcome the pontiff. With the pope back in Rome and pondering the life of rabbits, politicians are back with a vengeance, cutting each other’s throats as they shift to high gear for the 2016 race. While the nation is still basking in the rapidly fading afterglow of the papal visit, politicians may want to review the events to get some tips from the hugely popular pontiff on winning friends and influencing people. Bishops and priests can do the same; if they have even a fraction of Francis’ charisma, churches would be full again. READ FULL COLUMN By Ana Marie Pamintuan...

ALSO: Pope Francis recounts PHL experience before faithful in Vatican


Pope Francis waves to faithful as he leaves at the end of a visit to the St. Mary Major Basilica in Rome, Monday (Jan. 19, 2015). Pope Francis flew home Monday after a week-long trip to Asia, where he called for unity in Sri Lanka after a civil war and asked Filipinos to be “missionaries of the faith” in the world’s most populous continent after a record crowd joined his final Mass in the Philippine capital. (AP Photo) It seems it was not only the Filipinos who still have a hangover following the five-day visit of Pope Francis in the country. It appears even the pontiff has yet to get over the experience. In his message before the faithful gathered at the Paul VI Audience Hall in Vatican City Wednesday morning, Pope Francis recounted his experience during his apostolic and state visit in the Philippines last week. According to GMA News reporter Kara David, who is currently at the Vatican, Pope Francis, during his address at the weekly general papal audience gathering, said he was “very happy” with his visit in the Philippines. David reported that Pope Francis particularly praised the Filipinos' devotion to the Sto. Niño and their resilience in times of calamities. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Filipino bishop: Pope's 'rabbit' remark misunderstood

MANILA, JANUARY 24, 2015 (PHILSTAR) — The head of Philippine bishops on Wednesday issued a clarification of Pope Francis' call for responsible parenting, slamming reports that he compared Catholics to rabbits.

"The Pope NEVER made the rather unseemly remark that Catholics breed like rabbits," Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said in a statement.

"What the Pope DID SAY was that some Catholics mistakenly believe that to be Catholic, we ought to breed like rabbits—and prior to using that simile, he knew that it was harsh and so said 'excuse the expression'—but it was apt and it brought home the point," Villegas, who is also president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, added.

Villegas encouraged readers to refer to the transcript of the interview of Pope Francis aboard the Philippine Airlines plane en route to Rome on Monday.

He explained that the Catholic Church, albeit against artificial contraceptives and abortion, has always taught parents and families about responsible parenthood.

"Births should be planned rationally by both parents who must always remain open to new life, but who must also take into consideration their physical, financial and emotional capacity to raise children," Villegas said.

In commenting on the issue, the Roman Pontiff only corrected attitudes of some Catholics who say, "Come what may!', the bishop said.

He also urged the faithful to review Pope Francis' words in his meeting with families at the Mall of Asia arena last week where he staunchly defended Catholic teaching on marriage and parenthood.

In that meeting, Pope Francis called Pope Paul VI a prophet in penning the controversial Humanae Vitae, where he asserted that nations which assume an anti-birth stance will find themselves impoverished.

"The experience of aging nations with only a handful of youngsters to take on the jobs necessary for a country’s survival and growth has proved Blessed Paul VI right," Villegas said.

----

Transcript of Pope Francis' answer to a question on population issues and child bearing

Below is a verbatim translation of the pope's in-flight interview aboard the papal plane traveling from Manila to Rome on Monday, Jan. 19, 2015.

Journalist Christoph Schmidt:

Holy Father, first of all I would like to say: Thank you very much for all the impressive moments of this week. It is the first time I accompany you, and I would like to say thank you very much. My question: you have talked about the many children in the Philippines, about your joy because there are so many children, but according to some polls the majority of Filipinos think that the huge growth of Filipino population is one of the most important reasons for the enormous poverty in the country. A Filipino woman gives birth to an average of three children in her life, and the Catholic position concerning contraception seem to be one of the few question on which a big number of people in the Philippines do not agree with the Church. What do you think about that?

Pope Francis:

I think the number of three children per family that you mentioned – it makes me suffer- I think it is the number experts say is important to keep the population going. Three per couple. When this decreases, the other extreme happens, like what is happening in Italy. I have heard, I do not know if it is true, that in 2024 there will be no money to pay pensioners because of the fall in population. Therefore, the key word, to give you an answer, and the one the Church uses all the time, and I do too, is responsible parenthood. How do we do this? With dialogue. Each person with his pastor seeks how to do carry out a responsible parenthood. That example I mentioned shortly before about that woman who was expecting her eighth child and already had seven who were born with caesareans. That is a an irresponsibility That woman might say 'no, I trust in God.’ But, look, God gives you means to be responsible. Some think that -- excuse the language -- that in order to be good Catholics, we have to be like rabbits. No. Responsible parenthood. This is clear and that is why in the Church there are marriage groups, there are experts in this matter, there are pastors, one can search; and I know so many ways that are licit and that have helped this. You did well to ask me this. Another curious thing in relation to this is that for the most poor people, a child is a treasure. It is true that you have to be prudent here too, but for them a child is a treasure. Some would say 'God knows how to help me' and perhaps some of them are not prudent, this is true. Responsible paternity, but let us also look at the generosity of that father and mother who see a treasure in every child.


FROM GMA NEWS NETWORK

CBCP chief to Pope bashers: Leave ‘rabbits’ in peace January 21, 2015 2:29pm 17 1 0 18 Leave the rabbits in peace!


Archbishop Socrates Villegas

This was the appeal of Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines president Archbishop Socrates Villegas to those criticizing Pope Francis' statement on responsible parenthood.

Villegas, who is also Lingayen-Dagupan archbishop, stressed in a statement on Wednesday that the Pope never made a remark to the effect that Catholics breed like rabbits.

"The Pope NEVER made the rather unseemly remark that Catholics breed like rabbits... What the Pope DID SAY was that some Catholics mistakenly believe that to be Catholic, we ought to breed like rabbits – and prior to using that simile, he knew that it was harsh and so said 'excuse the expression' – but it was apt and it brought home the point," he said.

During the flight to Rome from Manila, the Pope had stressed the need for responsible parenthood.

"Some believe that – excuse the expression – to be good Catholics we must be like rabbits. No. Responsible parenthood. This is clear, and for this reason in the Church here are matrimonial groups, experts in this. I know of many, many legitimate ways to achieve this," he said, according to a transcript on the Vatican news site.

Villegas said the Pope's point is that the Church has always taught that it is a Catholic obligation to be responsible about parenthood.

He said this means births "should be planned rationally by both parents who must always remain open to new life, but who must also take into consideration their physical, financial and emotional capacity to raise children."

"It is not correct for a Catholic to assume the attitude: 'Come what may!' This is traditional Church teaching that the Pope was reiterating, and it should be especially relevant to us Filipinos who are grappling with population issues," he said.

Villegas also cited what Pope Francis said at his meeting with families at the Mall of Asia in Pasay City last Jan. 16.

During that meeting, Villegas said the Pope indicated that Blessed Paul VI's Humanae Vitae "prophetically understood" that nations would be impoverished in the measure that they assume an anti-birth stance.

He noted Blessed Paul VI was proven right by the experience of "aging nations with only a handful of youngsters to take on the jobs necessary for a country's survival and growth."

Also, he noted Blessed Paul VI had urged pastors to be sensitive to particular cases, especially those that need "carefully balanced, prayerfully calibrated solutions in accordance with a well-formed conscience and in the context of the guidance received from the Sacrament of Reconciliation." — Joel Locsin/LBG, GMA News


PHILSTAR

Luneta emcee apologizes for 'noisy' cheers (philstar.com) | Updated January 21, 2015 - 11:41am 20 270 googleplus0 0


Crowds raise images of the Christ Child, locally known as the Santo Niño, during the Mass at Rizal Park celebrated by Pope Francis in Manila, Philippines on Sunday, Jan. 18, 2015. RP Ocampo

MANILA, Philippines — The priest who served as master of ceremonies after the Papal Mass, which drew record crowds at Rizal Park last Sunday, apologized for supposedly ruining the solemnity of the affair.

Father Hans Magdurulang, who serves in Makati City, admitted that he may have committed a mistake for cheering and leading the chants loudly over the microphone after Pope Francis celebrated Mass and was leaving the grounds riding the Popemobile.

He said he discovered that he is being "bashed" on social media following the event for his repeated off-beat chants, for which he is heartily sorry.

RELATED: Luneta crowd making history shown in 15 photos

"Ang sabi po nila, ang nabasa ko po sa Twitter ay hindi daw po ako bagay sa page-emcee, masyado daw po akong maingay, sinira ko daw po yung solemnity nung Misa, parang ginawa kong show ... noontime show," he said in a dzMM interview on Tuesday.

"Kung may mga natuwa po sa Luneta, marami pong salamat. Pero kung may mga nadismaya po dahil sakin, ako po'y taus-pusong humihingi ng patawad po kung nasira ko po yung pagdiriwang po," the priest added.

A Twitter account with the handle @LunetaEmcee now followed by almost a thousand users was even made apparently to criticize Magdurulang.

Magdurulang said that since he does not have a Twitter account, he did not experience being criticized on social networks before, but he bears no grudge against those who hit him hard.

"Honestly po, napaisip ako, sabi ko, mukhang mali po 'ata yung nagawa ko. Baka may mali po akong nagawa, nasira ko po yung event. Tinanong ko po talaga yung sarili ko," he said.

"Pero sa ngayon po, to be honest po, hindi po ako nagalit sa kanila. Napagnilay-nilay ko po yung magandang natutunan ko po sa first time ko po mag-bash. Wala po akong Twitter, ganito pala ma-bash," Magdurulang explained.

The priest explained, however, that he tried his best to follow instructions given to him by organizers who feared stampedes may occur.

"Nakiusap po yung committee na pakalmahin ko yung mga tao kasi po naga-away-away na sila sa Orosa. Medyo nahirapan po yung communication, wala pong makapunta doon." - Camille Diola


MANILA TIMES

Bishop: We do not serve presidents January 22, 2015 12:07 am by Angel R. Calso, Contributing Desk Editor


Bishop Ramon B. Villena

Bishop Ramon Villena of the Diocese of Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya, strongly criticized President Benigno Aquino 3rd for his “reckless” accusations against the Church during Pope Francis’ courtesy call in Malacañang.

“What was supposed to have been an occasion filled with grace and truth turned out to be an embarrassing and a distressing affair, because President Aquino imprudently seized the opportunity to vent his disappointment that the Catholic hierarchy has not sided with him—in the presence of the Holy Father and of the highest ranking ecclesiastics in the country,” Villena said.
The bishop noted that he issued a public statement because Aquino’s “accusations cannot be made to pass without refutation and rebuttal.”

“He complains principally, that the clergy have been silent in the face of what he characterizes as the misdeeds, the malfeasance and the misfeasance the previous administration —referring of course to the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo,” Villena said.

“But that is exactly the trouble with Mr. Aquino: his lack of regard for judicial processes and his blatant disrespect of the judicial system,” he added.

“How can bishops and priests join in the condemnation of what has not been proved or established with certainty? We are not disposed to follow the lead of the President’s precipitousness in condemning his predecessor. She (Arroyo)is still being tried and, quite interestingly, so many cases against her have already been dismissed,” the bishop said.

He stressed that the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) was not at all silent during the Arroyo administration.

“In the wake of different allegations, the CBCP was not remiss in its exhortations. Repeatedly, the leadership of the CBCP and the CBCP in plenum released different statements that were widely anticipated by the media,” Villena said.

“But as soon as charges were filed against Mrs. Arroyo, we deemed it proper to leave her guilt or innocence to be determined by the courts.What is wrong with that, morally and legally? Is it not that they who flaunt their disregard for the law and for the courts who should rather apologize to the nation?” the bishop asked.

He said Aquino “is apparently exasperated that we have not been on his side.”

“The CBCP will use the very same riposte of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno who answered: ‘I do not serve presidents.’ Similarly, the CBCP does not serve presidents.

We will address ourselves to moral issues and doctrinal concerns. On political, social and economic matters that raise moral questions, we will not be silent, and it will matter little to us whether we are on the side of government or not. Otherwise, we will not be Church, but an instrumentality of the present administration,” Villena explained.

“This is the reason that we have been so firm against the passage of the Reproductive Health Law that Mr. Aquino himself actively peddled–and that the Supreme Court found to transgress the Constitution in so many ways,” he said.

“We also condemned the misuse of funds by legislators through the Priority Development Assistance Fund, and the President’s own deliberate violation of the Constitution through the Disbursement Acceleration Program. So, what is Mr. Aquino whining about?” the bishop asked.
Villena reminded the President that “a mature leader welcomes criticism, and grows because of admonition and counsel.”

“lt is the worst curse ever to befall anyone in high office to trust only in the counsel of sycophants for it is these who should least be trusted,” he said.

“For our part, we shall continue preaching in season and out of season, siding not with the powerful and the mighty—even if they may have the power to send their enemies to the slammer or to visit every kind of vicissitude on them —but the poor and the lowly, the defenseless and those who are oppressed.

But in all things we shall heed the admonition of Pope Francis: Mercy and compassion!”


PHILSTAR

‘Noy just telling the truth’ By Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) | Updated January 22, 2015 - 12:00am 0 1 googleplus0 0


AQUINO

MANILA, Philippines - Presidential Communications Operations Office chief Herminio Coloma Jr. yesterday defended President Aquino’s remark against some bishops when the Chief Executive welcomed Pope Francis at Malacañang last Friday.

Aquino reported the biases of some bishops identified with the administrations of former Presidents Ferdinand Marcos and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

“It is a personal testimony of someone who experienced the events he was talking about and became President and as a leader of a country that was welcoming the pope,” Coloma said, parrying netizens’ sentiments.

He said the President’s statement was truthful and was meant to tell the truth.

“The speech was a truth-telling statement. If we review the entire text, we will understand the context. It was a narrative that is historically accurate and truthful and there is no singling out of any personality or any group,” he said.

Aquino took the rare opportunity with the pope to report some bishops whom he believes took sides during the Marcos and Arroyo administrations.

“In contrast to their previous silence, some members of the clergy now seem to think that the way to be true to the faith means finding something to criticize, even to the extent that one prelate admonished me to do something about my hair as if it was a mortal sin.”

Aquino was referring to retired Archbishop Oscar Cruz, his most vocal critic from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, whom he once described as a grumpy old man for picking on his receding hairline.

In pushing for reforms that prioritize good governance and accountability and “correcting the wrongs of the past,” Aquino had thought that priests “would be our natural ally.”


PHILSTAR

Lessons from a visit SKETCHES By Ana Marie Pamintuan (The Philippine Star) | Updated January 23, 2015 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


By Ana Marie Pamintuan

It had to take a papal visit for Filipinos to find out how blissful it is when politicians and other epals stay out of sight.

Those requests from Church officials for epals to stay away and not exploit the visit for partisan purposes worked miracles. This was followed by a request from the Vatican not to use the pope’s image on streamers, depriving epals of another opportunity for displaying their names ostensibly to welcome the pontiff.

With the pope back in Rome and pondering the life of rabbits, politicians are back with a vengeance, cutting each other’s throats as they shift to high gear for the 2016 race.

While the nation is still basking in the rapidly fading afterglow of the papal visit, politicians may want to review the events to get some tips from the hugely popular pontiff on winning friends and influencing people. Bishops and priests can do the same; if they have even a fraction of Francis’ charisma, churches would be full again.

What makes this pontiff so easy to like? We all know one of the reasons: he lives simply, dresses simply. No ornate gold trimmings on his clothing, no red shoes. We all know his story: before becoming the head of the Vatican, he took the bus in Buenos Aires and cooked his own meals in a simple apartment. No SUV, no archbishop’s palace for Jorge Mario Bergoglio. This frugal lifestyle continues even in the Vatican. As we saw at his departure, he carries his own bag.

“May God forgive you for what you have done,” Archbishop Bergoglio reportedly joked to his fellow cardinals after they picked him as pope. A number of them are probably no longer laughing after losing their positions or being forced to give up the pomp and perks of their office.

Simplicity has a powerful impact especially in a developing country where the teeming masses can only look on as the .001 percent lives it up.

There’s a study showing that unhappiness – which can be triggered by personal loss, rejection, failures and similar problems –develops or deepens when people realize they lack something others enjoy. The study explored why people living in certain primitive or underdeveloped communities, with no access to modern communication showing life in more advanced societies, exhibited a high degree of happiness. Not knowing what you’re missing can be good for personal satisfaction.

Discontent is highest in societies where there is a yawning income gap and the masses are aware of the inequitable distribution of wealth, power and resources – especially when the haves flaunt what they’ve got to the have-nots.

In these societies, a genuine icon of simplicity is much appreciated, especially when it is shown by someone holding a position of power.

We saw this public appreciation in the case of Corazon Aquino and Jesse Robredo, which was manifested even after their deaths. To a certain extent, this was the appeal of presidential candidate Noynoy Aquino in 2010, which was why many of his supporters were dismayed when his fondness for Porsches was revealed.

Around the world simplicity – the genuine, unaffected type – plays well.

* * *

Another thing that makes Pope Francis so endearing is his empathy, his readiness to comfort rather than condemn, even as he stands firm on the teachings of the Church.

After hearing so much condemnation from the pastors of the faith, and being assured of eternal damnation in the fires of hell, a sinner may just walk away from the Catholic Church for good.

As I have previously written, providing comfort to the flock is one of the best roles the Church can play. It should not yield the role of listener-cum-comforter to psychiatrists and religious charismatic movements. The Church is most effective when it acts as a caring healer of spiritual wounds rather than a warrior confronting the devil in each of us.

The non-confrontational approach works better in a society where millions of people have enough problems just trying to survive.

If life is hell enough, you preserve your sanity by tuning out when you’re told that hell is what awaits you in the afterlife.

* * *

A third asset of Pope Francis is his quick shakeup of a Church that seemed impervious to reforms. The pontiff is undertaking a long overdue housecleaning in a Church mired in all sorts of scandals including corruption and one of the worst sins, the sexual molestation of children.

Those scandals have surely turned a number of Catholics into freethinkers or agnostics, or driven them to other religions or branches of Christianity.

While stressing his opposition to religious relativism and cafeteria-style practice of the faith, Pope Francis is also providing nuanced interpretations of Catholic teachings and the role of the clergy that do not further alienate straying flock. The interpretations, born of his immersion with the poor in his native Argentina, are needed if the Roman Catholic faith is to survive and even spread.

Finally, politicians and clergy alike may find inspiration in Pope Francis’ message of hope, which goes hand-in-hand with his focus on compassion. With so much suffering, despair and cynicism in this world, hope is in short supply. No one offers hope better than this pope.


GMA NEWS NETWORK

Pope Francis recounts PHL experience before faithful in Vatican January 22, 2015 5:40pm 6 2 0 8


Pope Francis waves to faithful as he leaves at the end of a visit to the St. Mary Major Basilica in Rome, Monday (Jan. 19, 2015). Pope Francis flew home Monday after a week-long trip to Asia, where he called for unity in Sri Lanka after a civil war and asked Filipinos to be “missionaries of the faith” in the world’s most populous continent after a record crowd joined his final Mass in the Philippine capital. (AP Photo)

It seems it was not only the Filipinos who still have a hangover following the five-day visit of Pope Francis in the country. It appears even the pontiff has yet to get over the experience.

In his message before the faithful gathered at the Paul VI Audience Hall in Vatican City Wednesday morning, Pope Francis recounted his experience during his apostolic and state visit in the Philippines last week.

According to GMA News reporter Kara David, who is currently at the Vatican, Pope Francis, during his address at the weekly general papal audience gathering, said he was “very happy” with his visit in the Philippines.

David reported that Pope Francis particularly praised the Filipinos' devotion to the Sto. Niño and their resilience in times of calamities.

It can be remembered that Pope Francis' mass at the Quirino Grandstand on Sunday, January 18 coincided with the feast of the Holy Child or Sto. Niño, thus many of the mass attendees brought their images of the Sto. Niño with them to be blessed by the pope.

Meanwhile, Pope Francis' visit in Tacloban was highlighted by a heartfelt mass attended by thousands of people, majority of them were victims of Supertyphoon Yolanda.

According to David's report aired on “News To Go”, Pope Francis, during his papal audience address, also called on Filipinos to strengthen further their faith and be the evangelizers or messengers of Christ's good news across Asia.

The Philippines is considered as the only Catholic country in Asia with 86 percent of its population belonging to the Catholic Church.

David reported that Pope Francis also told the papal audience about his encounters with the families at the SM Mall of Asia Arena and his encounter with the youths at the University of Santo Tomas (UST) on Friday and Sunday, respectively.

Pope Francis was quoted at the News To Go report as saying that children as well as the ability to bear a child are blessings from God.

Pope Francis also reportedly said that he does not believe that overpopulation is the root of poverty in developing countries such as the Philippines but the unequal distribution of goods and resources and the system of governance which focuses on gaining profits for the benefit of the few. This part of the Pope's address reportedly drew cheers from the crowd.

Pope Francis, during his message before the families at the SM MOA Arena called for the protection of human life from “conception to natural death”.

However, on his flight back to the Vatican from the Philippines, Pope Francis clarified that to be good Catholics, couples must also practice responsible parenthood and not “breed like rabbits”.

In a speech at the Malacañang during his courtesy call with President Benigno Aquino III, Pope Francis also dared politicians to “be honest” and “reject all forms of corruption which divert resources from the poor."

The papal audience gathering is a weekly event in the Vatican usually held at St. Peter's Square but since it was raining hard there Wednesday morning, the gathering was held at Pope Paul VI Audience Hall. —Elizabeth T. Marcelo/NB, GMA News


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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