FILIPINO gestures touched Pope Francis, making his five-day visit unforgettable.
Aboard a Philippine Airlines flight back to Rome after a record-breaking visit to the Philippines last Jan. 15 to 19, Pope Francis revealed how he was genuinely moved by Filipino gestures and affection.
“[The Filipino gestures] are not protocol gestures. They are good gestures, felt gestures, [and] gestures of the heart. Some almost make one weep. There’s everything there—faith, love, family, illusions, and future,” Pope Francis said during a 56-minute press conference.
The Pope cited two events in the country that caused him “annihilation” and “weeping”—the Mass in Tacloban and the encounter with the youth in UST.
“On the moment of the Mass [in Tacloban], I felt as though I was annihilated, I almost couldn’t speak. I don’t know what happened to me, maybe it was the emotion, I don’t know,” Pope Francis said. “These were God’s people, and God was present. And the joy of the presence of God which tells us that you are servants of these people, these people are the protagonists.”
Pope Francis was also moved by the weeping of Glyzelle Palomar, one of the four young people who delivered testimonies in UST, after asking him, “Why do children suffer?”
“She was the only one to ask that question to which there is no answer, ‘Why do children suffer?’ Women may tell us how they experience, and view reality because women view things from a different richness, a larger one,” he said.
The Pope recounted how he urged Rikki Palomar, the inventor of the portable solar night light that helped typhoon "Yolanda" victims, after his testimony, to learn how to receive instead of only giving.
“Another thing I would like to underscore is what I said to the last young man, who truly works well, he gives and gives and gives, he organizes to help the poor. But don’t forget that we too need to be beggars, the poor evangelizes us,” the Pope said.
He rejected the establishment of a Church that could be described as a nongovernment agency or NGO.
“I think the Church must give examples – always more examples - of refusing every worldliness. To we, consecrated, bishops, priests, sisters, laity who truly believe, the gravest sin and the gravest threat is worldliness. It's really ugly to look on when you see a worldly consecrated, a man of the Church, a sister,” the Pope said. “This is not the way of Jesus. It's the path of an NGO that is called "church" but this isn't the Church of Jesus, that NGO.”
The Pope concluded the press conference by thanking the media for their coverage of his visit. “I thank you very much for your work, I have esteem for it. Thanks very much. I know it is a sacrifice for you. Thanks very much,” the Pope said.
Pope Francis arrived in the country last Jan. 15. The Pontiff visited Tacloban on Jan.17 to extend compassion to the victims of Yolanda. The following day, Pope Francis went to UST for a brief meeting with religious leaders and an almost two-hour encounter with the youth.
His visit was concluded by a Mass in Luneta, which gathered a six-to-seven-million crowd, surpassing the five-million record set by the 1995 World Youth Day Closing Mass led by Pope St. John Paul II.
Pope Francis was the third pontiff to visit Asia’s largest Catholic nation after Blessed Paul VI in 1970 and St. John Paul II in 1981 and 1995. Angeli Mae S. Cantillana and April Joy E. Dy