WORLD: BULK OF POPE FRANCIS' TWITTER FOLLOWERS ARE OFWs

"When the Pope went on Twitter. We can see where in the world the Pope has followers," Msgr. Paul Tighe, among the Pope's advisers managing his Twitter account @Pontifex, said in a Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines report. "We were surprised to see that in the Middle Eastern countries and Gulf states, there were huge following. Then we realized that those were the Filipinos," he added.

ALSO: Pope, Obama deeply saddened

“In praying for all the people of the Philippines, the Holy Father likewise offers encouragement to the civil authorities and emergency personnel as they assist the victims of this storm. He invokes divine blessings of strength and consolation for the nation,” the Vatican added. “Michelle and I are deeply saddened by the loss of life and extensive damage done by Super Typhoon Yolanda. But I know the incredible resiliency of the Philippines, and I am confident that the spirit of bayanihan will see you through this tragedy,” Obama said.

ALSO: Pope Francis calls for fewer rules, more mercy in mission statement

Pope Francis issued the mission statement for his papacy Tuesday, outlining how the Catholic Church and the papacy itself must be reformed to create a more missionary and merciful church that gets its hands dirty as it seeks out the poor and oppressed.


WORLD: BULK OF POPE FRANCIS' TWITTER FOLLOWERS ARE OFWs


Alluding to the devastation wrought by super-typhoon Yolanda this month, faithful hold a poster reading 'Pray for the Philippines' during a ceremony celebrated by Pope Francis to bless a mosaic dedicated to Filipino St. Pedro Calungsod, in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013. AP/Andrew Medichini

MANILA, DECEMBER 2, 2013, (PHILSTAR) By Camille Diola - A good number of Pope Francis' followers on Twitter are overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) concentrated in Islam-dominated Middle East, a Vatican official said on Thursday.

"When the Pope went on Twitter. We can see where in the world the Pope has followers," Msgr. Paul Tighe, among the Pope's advisers managing his Twitter account @Pontifex, said in a Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines report.

"We were surprised to see that in the Middle Eastern countries and Gulf states, there were huge following. Then we realized that those were the Filipinos," he added.

Tighe, the secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, said that social media have been helpful for Filipino-Catholics abroad to connect with and deepen their faith especially in places when they cannot openly practice it.

"These Filipinos are in a situation that are not easy for Catholics but Twitter is something that allowed them some connection to the Church," he said.

He also urged Filipinos to continue using social media and the Internet to express their spiritual convictions and to boost their identification with the Church. Homepage ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1

Tighe, who arrived in Manila to speak at a Catholic social media conference, said that the OFWs' expressiveness of their catholicity is something he "loves about Filipinos."

Pope Benedict XVI joined Twitter last December and posts inspirational messages in different languages. The main handle @Pontifex is in English. Pope Francis, upon assuming his post, took on the Twitter account that Benedict left.

On Friday, Pope Francis addressed typhoon-stricken Filipinos once again, asking them to ask God 'why' without expecting an answer as children do.

"(Your) sorrow was strong, but also the people were strong," Francis said.

SOME OF THE TWEETS:

The Church is missionary. Christ sends us forth to bring the joy of the Gospel to the whole world.

To live charitably means not looking out for our own interests, but carrying the burdens of the weakest and poorest among us.

The fight against evil is long and difficult. It is essential to pray constantly and to be patient.

Christians know how to face difficulties, trials and defeat with serenity and hope in the Lord.

TO SEE MORE TWEETS GO TO PHILSTAR FILE

Pope, Obama deeply saddened By Evelyn Macairan (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 12, 2013 - 12:00am 3 22 googleplus1 1


Pope Francis and US President Barack Obama. AP photos

MANILA, Philippines - Pope Francis on Sunday sent a telegram to President Aquino through Vatican Secretary of State Archbishop Pietro Parolin to express his solidarity with the victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) posted on its website yesterday.

US President Barack Obama also expressed his sympathy to the victims in a message to the Philippines on Sunday, at the same time highlighting the “incredible resiliency” of Filipinos in the face of adversity.

“Deeply saddened by the destruction and loss of life caused by the super typhoon, His Holiness Pope Francis expresses his heartfelt solidarity with all those affected by this storm and its aftermath,” Parolin said in the telegram, according to CBCPNews.

Parolin said Pope Francis “is especially mindful of those who mourn the loss of their loved ones and those who have lost their homes.”

“In praying for all the people of the Philippines, the Holy Father likewise offers encouragement to the civil authorities and emergency personnel as they assist the victims of this storm. He invokes divine blessings of strength and consolation for the nation,” the Vatican added.

Pope Francis earlier took to his Twitter account to urge the public to pray for all the typhoon victims.

The Pope also shared his concern for the victims at the Angelus in Rome last Sunday.

“I want to assure the people of the Philippines and of that region who were struck by the terrible typhoon of my closeness,” he said.

The crowd that gathered for the noontime prayer in St. Peter’s Square reportedly clapped in unity.

Meanwhile, Obama said the United States is providing significant humanitarian assistance to the victims of Yolanda and is ready to further assist the Philippine government’s relief and recovery efforts.

“Michelle and I are deeply saddened by the loss of life and extensive damage done by Super Typhoon Yolanda. But I know the incredible resiliency of the Philippines, and I am confident that the spirit of bayanihan will see you through this tragedy,” Obama said.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has directed the Pacific Command to support US government humanitarian relief operations in the Philippines and elements of the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade based in Okinawa, Japan have started deploying to areas badly hit by the typhoon.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the millions of people affected by this devastating storm,” Obama said.

Filipino-American organizations in various parts of the US were scrambling to raise funds and donations of food and medicine for typhoon victims.

Meanwhile, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also sent a message to President Aquino on Sunday, expressing unity with the victims.

He said Japan will extend the necessary assistance to the Philippines.

9-day prayers

CBCP president Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma on Sunday issued a circular declaring a Novena of Prayer and Charity from Nov. 11 to 19 for the victims of Yolanda and the magnitude 7.2 earthquake in Bohol.

While Yolanda was assessed as the strongest typhoon in the world, Palma believes the Filipinos’ faith in the Lord is stronger.

He reminded the faithful that during this time of national calamity, they must again turn to the Lord.

He said novena prayers and masses would be offered for the dead and the families who were left behind.

He also asked bishops and priests to conduct a charity fund collection during the nine-day period and immediately transmit the collection to the dioceses in the calamity-stricken provinces.– With Danny Dangcalan, Jose Katigbak (STAR Washington bureau), Eva Visperas

FROM MSN NEWS CANADA

Pope Francis calls for fewer rules, more mercy in mission statement


Pope Francis hugs a man at the end of his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican last week. On Tuesday, the Pope released a mission statement for his papacy in which he called for a more merciful, involved Catholic Church that is less focused on procedures and moral judgments. Gregorio Borgia/Associated Press

Pope Francis issued the mission statement for his papacy Tuesday, outlining how the Catholic Church and the papacy itself must be reformed to create a more missionary and merciful church that gets its hands dirty as it seeks out the poor and oppressed.

In the 85-page document, Francis pulled together the priorities he has laid out in eight months of homilies, speeches and interviews and put them in the broader context of how to reinvigorate the Church's evangelical zeal in a world marked by indifference, secularization and vast income inequalities.

He explained his most controversial remarks criticizing the Church's "obsession" with transmitting a disjointed set of moral doctrines, saying that in the Church's "hierarchy of truths," mercy is paramount, proportion is necessary and that what counts is inviting the faithful in.

Stance on abortion non-negotiable

He went even further Tuesday, saying some of the Church's historical customs can even be cast aside if they no longer serve to communicate the faith. Citing St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas, Francis stressed the need for moderation in norms "so as to not burden the lives of the faithful."

At the same time, Francis restated the Church's opposition to abortion, making clear that this doctrine is non-negotiable and is at the core of the church's insistence on the dignity of every human being.

The document, Evangelii Gaudium, (The Joy of the Gospel), is the second major teaching document issued by Francis but is the first actually written by him since the encyclical "The Light of Faith," issued in July, was penned almost entirely by Pope Benedict XVI before he resigned.

Francis wrote the bulk of it in August, during the Vatican's summer lull, said Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi.

Francis's concerns are laced throughout, and the theological and historical citations leave no doubt about his own points of reference and priorities: Popes John XXIII and Paul VI, who presided over the Second Vatican Council, which brought the Church into the modern world, are cited repeatedly.

And in a first for an apostolic exhortation, as this type of papal pronouncement is called, Francis cited various documents of bishops' conferences from around the world, an indication of the importance he places in giving the local Church greater say in Church governance and decision-making.

"I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security," he wrote. "I do not want a Church concerned with being at the centre and then ends up by being caught up in a web of obsessions and procedures."

He added: "More than by fear of going astray, my hope is that we will be moved by the fear of remaining shut up within structures which give us a false sense of security, within rules which make us harsh judges, within habits which make us feel safe, while at our door people are starving and Jesus does not tire of saying to us, 'Give them something to eat."'

Confession shouldn't be 'torture'

In the frank and often funny style that has come to define Francis's preaching, the Argentine Jesuit chastised priests for their complacency, giving them a lesson on preparing homilies that don't put the faithful to sleep. He reminded them that confession shouldn't be "torture" and told them to get out of their sacristies, get their shoes muddy, get involved in the lives of their faithful and not be defeatist "sourpusses."

He said their greatest concern must be the poor and marginalized, since they are victims of an unjust, global economic system that prizes profit over people. He said the poor need the tender, merciful love that the Church can provide.

While again ruling out women's ordination, Francis called for greater role for women in making decisions in the Church and said the faithful ought not to think that just because priests preside over Mass that they are more important than the people who make up the Church itself.

"The Church, as the agent of evangelization, is more than an organic hierarchical institution; she is first and foremost a people advancing on its pilgrim way towards God," he wrote.

Francis cited Vatican II documents calling for a more decentralized Church authority and said he, too, must rethink the papacy to achieve the goals of spreading the faith. He noted that Pope John Paul II had asked for proposals to rethink the way the primacy of the pope is exercised, a delicate and potentially revolutionary issue that hasn't yet been resolved.

Francis is currently overseeing a major overhaul of the Vatican's dysfunctional administration, but he said that he was "open to suggestions" about how to change the very nature of the papacy and its relation to the world's bishops conferences, to make the papacy reflect better what Jesus intended and what the Church needs today.

"Excessive centralization, rather than proving helpful, complicates the Church's life and her missionary outreach," he said.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi
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