EXPERIENCING the rain and strong winds was a chance for Pope Francis to relate more with the people of Leyte, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle said.

Pope Francis’ second mass at the Daniel Romualdez International Airport was met by inclement weather which forced the people including the Pope to wear raincoats during the mass.

In a press briefing on Jan. 17, Tagle shared how the Pope saw the bad weather as a symbol that he needed to experience, saying the latter was the one who requested to ride the open vehicle going to the Archbishop’s residence.

“The Holy Father said no to the closed car. He said, ‘This is the reason why I am here. I am here to show solidarity. If the people had sacrificed under the heat of the sun and under the rain, then why should a pastor not be with them,’” Tagle said.

After the mass, Pope Francis proceeded to the Archbishops’ house for his lunch with victims of typhoon “Yolanda” and the earthquake in Bohol. However, due to the worsening weather, the rest of the Pope’s itinerary had to be cut short. However, Tagle assured all the encounters were intimate though brief.

“The mass was simplified but you can see the heart of a pastor in him when he spoke. During lunch, I was watching the Pope listen intently to all 30 of them. He was shaking his head. He was suffering with them,” Tagle said, becoming emotional himself.

Prior to the press conference, the Pope had already been made aware of the death of the 21-year-old who died after the mass in Tacloban. The Pontiff offered prayers and immediately asked for more details about the victim, who was identified as Kristel Pasadas.

Tagle said everything in the Pope’s itinerary for today was accomplished though sped up. Both the Pope Francis Center and the mass grave for victims of Haiyan were given blessings by the Pope while riding the popemobile en route to the airport.

Pope Francis boarded the plane to Manila at 1 p.m., four hours earlier than scheduled.

Tagle said the love and solidarity witnessed in Tacloban is stronger than any typhoon. Danielle Ann F. Gabriel


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