Thursday, December 11, 2014

Popes Visit the Philippines

This coming January 2015, His Holiness Pope Francis will be visiting the country. So that means he will be the third Pope to visit us. The important highlight of his visit is Tacloban - the placed that was ravaged by typhoon Yolanda a year ago.

Yet, do you know that there were already two Popes that visited the Philippines? 

Pope Paul VI (November 27-29, 1970)

The first Pope that visited the Philippines was Pope Paul VI and he was considered the first  Vicar of Christ to set foot on Southeast Asian soil. Nonetheless, on his arrival at the Manila International Airport, he was attacked by a Bolivian painter dressed in clerical garb named Benjamin Mendoza y Amor Flores. He jumped the Pope with a 33-centimeter blade. The Pope’s personal secretary, Msgr. Pasquale Macchi, broke the attack by grabbing Mendoza and throwing him to the ground, yet the Pope was wounded in the chest because of the attack. Philippine security officers then subdued and arrested Mendoza.

It was really a “missionary mission” of bring Christ to the whole continent. As Pope Paul IV has said, “Christ is light and truth and life. And We proclaim him to you as he appears to our unshakeable faith. We are obedient to his charge, his command: Go, preach to all nations the good, the happy news, instructing them in my teaching of love and life. This we do, brothers and sisters, with humble love for you, with deep respect for you and for your ancient and venerable traditions.” 

In the Philippines, the Holy Father met the poor of Manila, bid for peace in Vietnam, and addresses the people, different groups, college and the episcopate of Asia headed by Rufino Cardinal Santos. The Pope's busy activities included priestly ordinations at Luneta Park and the inauguration of Radio Veritas.

Pope John Paul II (February 17-22, 1981)

Pope John Paul II went to the Philippines 2 times. The first was in 1981. His Holiness visit to the Philippines lasted six days and aside from Manila, St. John Paul II travelled to Cebu, Davao, Bacolod, Iloilo, Legazpi, Morong, and Baguio. The main reason of the visit was the beatification of Lorenzo Ruiz (later, the first Filipino to become a saint) and his companions who were martyred in Nagasaki in 1637. It was the first beatification of saints outside Rome. 

San Lorenzo Ruiz

Speaking of the Manila visit, this was not the first time Pope John Paul II ever went to Manila. On February 1973 five years before he became the Bishop of Rome, he already been in Manila when he was still Karol Cardinal Wojtyla, archbishop of Krakow.

On February 18, he visited the poor in Tondo. Here he spoke to them against the spreading communism in that era when he said, “My dear friends of Tondo, be faithful to Christ, and joyfully embrace his Gospel of salvation. Do not be tempted by ideologies that preach only material values or purely temporal ideas, which separate political, social and economic development from the things of the spirit, and in which happiness is sought apart from Christ. The road towards your total liberation is not the way of violence, class struggle or hate; it is the way of love, brotherhood and peaceful solidarity.”

Before leaving, The Holy Father had only words of tribute to the Filipino people, his loving hosts:
“The Philippine nation is deserving of particular honor since, from the beginning of its Christianization, from the moment that Magellan planted the Cross in Cebu four hundred and sixty years ago… all through the centuries, its people have remained true to the Christian faith.”

Pope John Paul II 2nd visit (January 12-16, 1995)

After 14 years, Pope John Paul II returned to the Philippines the second time and this time, his purpose is to be with young people from all corners of the world in celebration of the 10th World Youth Day. 

The Pontiff met with Former President Fidel Ramos at the MalacaƱang Palace and later, he celebrated Mass for the 233 delegates of the International Youth Forum at Central Seminary Chapel of the UST, but it was in Rizal Park, where the Holy Father re-stated his call to holiness and issued his memorable exhortation on the World Youth Day theme: “As the Father sent me, so am I sending you.”

Five million, many of them young people, were in attendance. It was a world’s record and it was also considered the biggest gathering so far in the Pontiff’s 16-year reign. 

Pope Francis will be coming this January 2015

His Holiness Pope Francis will be coming to the Philippines from January 15-19, 2015. That will make Pope Francis to be the third Pope to visit the Philippines.

His main objective is to meet earthquake and typhoon survivors in the Visayas. Shortly after Super Typhoon Yolanda struck the Philippines in November 2013, Pope Francis said “he was one with the suffering people, and that we should not be afraid to ask God, 'Why?' as children ask parents, 'Why?' Not so much for clear answers but to get the attention of the parent.” Hi visit to the Philippines will serve as a hope to those who suffered from the disaster and to remind them that God still cares.

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