POPE ‘WALKS’ WITH YOLANDA SURVIVORS philippine papal visit

Papal Visit Philippines
eastwind journals 149


By Bernie V. Lopez
Permission is granted to re-publish with credits and notification.


Is it perhaps an omen, a reminder to pray during disasters, that a storm (signal no. 2) was brewing as Pope Francis landed in Tacloban to talk to Yolanda survivors? The Pope had to be whisked away earlier to Manila before the storm would arrive.
The soft rain during the final Papal mass at Luneta was like a baptism, a cleansing, a drenching of a mammoth crowd rarely seen, eager for even just a glimpse of the Pope. It is not known if the Church permits it, but for the first time in Catholic history (as far as I know), the sacred host was passed on hand to hand to the rear communicants who could not get near.
It is unfortunate that what went viral in the Internet was more the political and less the evangelical message on the visit of Pope Francis to the Philippines. The point is well taken that Noynoy messed it up, sure, but for that to become the primary focus, at least among Filipinos globally, upstaged what the Pope wanted to convey to Filipinos and to the world.


The Pope’s visit to Tacloban exemplifies the Theology of Salvation from Disaster, so visible in his papal mission, implicit in the messages of Our Lady of Fatima concerning looming global cataclysms. We must understand the storms that will come our way, that we need to pray every time there is a storm warning, to ask the Lord to save us from cataclysm.


Pope Francis met with a handful of Yolanda survivors, as he requested for. He said to the Tacloban crowd, “I walk with you in silence. Jesus understands us because He experienced all our pains in the cross. And beside Him at His cross was His Mother.” In his emotional homily at the Tacloban Airport mass, speaking in his native Spanish tongue, Santa Papa, in summary, said that –


fourteen months after Yolanda
the faith of the Filipino has not waivered
the moment he heard about it
the Pope decided he would visit Tacloban
he said that we should not be upset
because the Lord experienced and shared on the cross
all the pain of victims and survivors
of that historic cataclysm
we must seek comfort in the thought
that the Lord understands us
and weeps with us and walks with us
in our most difficult moments
the Lord is our ‘silent companion’ in the storms of our lives
He responds from the cross and no words are needed
the Pope said Mama Mary is our mother
and we must, like little children
grab her hand and tug on her tunic
in our moments of pain and crisis
for she is the loving Mother to the rescue
Jesus through Mary never lets us down


The Pope ends with a call to silent prayer to look at Jesus on the cross for He understands us. He said that from his heart, he has no other words to say except that Jesus and our Mother will never let us down.


As for our dear President Noynoy, let us perhaps forgive him for his naiveté that, at the airport, he sidelined the Church prelates who were supposed to welcome and host the Pope. It was better if he just waited for the Pope at Malacanang. He had the gall to permit government officials accused of corruption to shake hands with the Pope, when the Pope, in his Manila Cathedral homily, so clearly pointed out that the challenge for Filipinos was to address three important issues – poverty, corruption, and injustice. Finally, in his speech in Malacanang, in his naiveté, Noynoy again had the gall to reprimand the Church to get its act together. He did not even know he was being tacky.


Before the Pope flew back to Manila, there was an exchange gift. He was given an image of Our Lady of the Immaculate Concepcion, and he gave a mosaic of La Madonna de Populo, Our Lady of the Masses. The Marian theme was very visible in the Pope’s Tacloban visit.


There have been predictions of worsening global cataclysms due to climate change. PAGASA warns of new Yolandas that climate change will spurn. The Philippines has a unique location in the Pacific typhoon corrider, sustaining an average of 20 to 25 storms a year, more than any other nation. We need our papal blest rosaries to plead for survival in this era of disasters. Pope Francis is coming up with a ‘climate change encyclical’ soon, according to Vatican journalists.

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