Focus on Jesus, not me—Francis
“Don’t focus on me; focus on Jesus,” Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle quoted Pope Francis as saying about his forthcoming visit to the Philippines.
“I am a regular human being. But they are making me a celebrity, a star. That’s not me,” Pope Francis told the cardinal, who enjoined the faithful to go beyond their goal of having a selfie with the Pope during his visit from Jan. 15 to 19.
“Will we become sovereign, just, truthful and loving just because (we) have a selfie with him?” Tagle asked his audience at a forum organized by the Philippine Daily Inquirer at Colegio de San Juan de Letran on Saturday morning.
“You want to make it appear like a souvenir,” Tagle said of the usual response to celebrity sightings.
The cardinal said that without the people’s will and participation, the papal visit cannot bring about the much needed change in the country.
“Every papal visit is significant in a unique way because every pope is a unique person, wearing his own personality…,” Tagle said, adding that the Pope’s words were the Argentine Pontiff’s reminder to himself “to remain grounded.”
Tagle said that even before Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan) struck the Philippines in November 2013, the Pope had already offered to visit the country.
After Pope Francis’ election in March 2013, Tagle said he invited him to visit Asia, particularly the Philippines.
“Two months later, in a meeting in Rome, he reminded me (about it). He said, how about that possible visit to the Philippines? And I (thought), oh he was really that serious,” Tagle said.
When Tagle suggested 2016 as a possible schedule for a papal visit in time for the Church’s Eucharistic Congress, the Pope told him three years from then was too far.
“I might be dead by that time. Don’t forget that I’m an old man,” Tagle quoted the Pope as saying.
The visit was initially scheduled in November 2014 but the bishops decided that the date was too close to the Synod of Bishops which took place in Rome in October 2014.
The cardinal also expressed satisfaction about the security measures laid down for the papal visit.
Cardinal Tagle also confirmed that the Pope was working on his encyclical on climate change, but added that he had no information whether the papal letter would be delivered during his visit next week.
“The (information) on the encyclical of the Pope on the environment is true. I have heard him talking with some people in the Vatican who are helping him in drafting the document,” Tagle said.
“(The Pope) said the document was not yet ready because a lot of serious studies are needed. The Holy Father was cautious. I heard him say he does not want a papal encyclical accused of spreading false data that are not verified,” Tagle added of the papal document sent to all Catholic bishops in the world.
Late last year, the Argentine Pontiff delivered his mini-encyclical on the poor, labor injustices and the environment.
Tagle noted that the Pope chose the name Francis, the patron saint of ecology, because of his personal advocacy on the environment.
But he said he has no knowledge if the document had been prepared, Tagle said, adding: “(But) if it happens in Tacloban, wow!”
In opening the forum, Inquirer chair Marixi Prieto said the event was aimed at creating “an avenue for meaningful discussion” in preparation for the papal visit.
Inquirer publisher Raul Pangalangan and INQUIRER.net editor in chief John Nery led the forum discussion dubbed “A Church of Mercy” and attended mostly by members of the media and students.
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