CBCP puts up Web site for papal visit
MANILA, Philippines— The Catholic Church has launched a website for Pope Francis’ visit to the Philippines in January.
The site, which was created by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines media office, is in English and contains information, including articles and statements, related to the much-awaited visit of the Holy Father.
One of the statements posted on the web site is a pastoral letter on how to prepare the people for the papal visit.
The site carries an icon showing a smiling Francis and the words, “mercy and compassion,” the central theme of the papal visit.
“That has been the recurring theme of the teaching, homilies, actions of the Holy Father,” explained Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle during a press briefing last week when he officially announced the dates of the Pope’s visit.
The site also features a countdown that keeps track of the weeks, days, hours, minutes and seconds before the arrival of the Pontiff on January 15 following a visit to Sri Lanka. He will be in the Philippines until January 19.
The special website also features pictures of children in areas devastated by Supertyphoon Yolanda (Haiyan) holding pieces of paper bearing messages to welcome the Pope.
Pope Francis has already announced his intention to meet with the typhoon survivors.
Also posted on the website is an action video of “We are all God’s Children,” the official theme song of the 2015 apostolic visit; and the National Prayer, which will be prayed before the post communion prayer of every Mass from August 1, 2014 to January 14, 2015.
Church officials hope that the papal visit will usher in a spiritually uplifting “typhoon.”
Francis will become the first Pope in nearly two decades to visit the Far East when he travels to South Korea on August 14-18. He has said he wanted to visit Asia since Pope Benedict XVI never got there.
Tagle neither confirmed nor denied reports that the Pope would visit the University of Santo Tomas on España Boulevard in Manila for a youth rally.
“But UST always figured in previous [papal] visits to the Philippines. We’re coming from that historical datum. Whether or not that will happen, we hope for confirmation at the end of the year,” Tagle told reporters.
Pope Francis will be the third Pope to visit the Philippines after Pope Paul VI in 1970 and Pope John Paul II in 1981 and 1995.
Meanwhile, Filipino hospitality notwithstanding, a prelate from Palawan believes that a simple welcome for Pope Francis next year will be the best option for both Church and government officials given the Pontiff’s propensity for austerity.
“The activities and programs to be prepared must be in keeping with the Pope’s personality. Let us avoid holding costly, wasteful, and extravagant receptions,” said Bishop Pedro Arigo, apostolic vicar of Puerto Princesa, in an article posted on the CBCP Web site.
“These, I think, will greatly displease him because they will not be consistent with his message of love and care for the poor,” he added.
Pope Francis is known for his humility and simplicity in manner and lifestyle.
Arigo stressed that an expression of hospitality marked by ostentation and insensitivity will likely be an insult to the poor.
Arigo urged the Filipino faithful to focus on the message the Pope will be bringing, especially to the thousands affected by Supertyphoon Yolanda, instead on satisfying one’s personal “need” to brag about having met him in person.