Tagle hand-carries letters from street urchins to Pope Francis
MANILA, Philippines — About a thousand streetchildren in Metro Manila have written letters to Pope Francis in hopes he would spend time with them when he visits the country in January.
In a statement, Tulay ng Kabataan Foundation (ANAK-Tnk), a nonprofit organization which has been helping neglected, battered and abused children, said the letters would be handed over to the Pope by Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, who left last Sunday for Rome.
“They have decided to write to him so that he could pay them a visit and they are waiting with a huge impatience and big hope his response,” said Alexandra Chapeleau, the foundation’s communication and partnerships manager.
Apart from the letters, the foundation has also initiated an Internet campaign called “Even Us?” featuring a short video showing messages of the Pope and the condition of the children.
The video also shows the children while they were writing their letters to Francis.
“The Holy Father is increasing his appeals to be aware of the poorest. The children of the foundation ANAK-Tnk, who have experienced the horrors of the streets—begging, violence, drugs, prostitution—take his word. ANAK-Tnk produced a short video were the messages of the Pope echo with the wounds of these children,” Chapeleau said in the statement.
“We initiate the campaign Even us? to fulfill the dream of our children. We want the video to become viral until it reaches Pope Francis himself,” she added, appealing to the public to help them spread the video by posting it on websites and social media channels like Facebook and Twitter.
“Post the video on Facebook and Twitter with the sentence: “Message from the UNLOVED children of Manila to their LOVING Pope Francis,” she said.
Meanwhile, Tagle expressed hope that Pope Francis’ visit to the Philippines would make a difference in the lives of Filipinos and the country.
According to him, changes in personal as well as in societal life are possible but only “if we allow them.”
“The pastoral visit of Pope Francis focused on Mercy and Compassion would certainly offer vast opportunities to experience grace, to hear callings, to disturb comfort zones, to value the poor, to renew society, to care for creation and to live honorably,” Tagle said in a post on the website of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines.
The cardinal recalled how Pope Paul VI’s visit to the Philippines in 1970 “mysteriously opened a door for me to the mystery and mission of the Church.”
“I was 13 years old when Pope Paul VI visited the Philippines. With many fellow students milling around me, I craned my neck and steadied my eyes so I could see him as his car rushed before us,” he said. “The serene face and demeanor of the Pope impressed me. The image has not left my mind, as well memories of his visit in Tondo.”
Eighteen years later in 1985, he registered at the Catholic University of America to study theology.
Due to his interest in the Second Vatican Council, he wrote about Paul VI’s plans for the council when the future Pope was still a cardinal.
“I never imagined in 1970 that one day I would ‘travel’ inside the mind, heart and soul of this great Pope, who led the renewal of the Church in the modern world,” he said.
Tagle said his studies of Paul VI and the Vatican II led him later on to serve and collaborate with Saint John Paul II, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and now Pope Francis.
“At the end of the visit and at some unknown future, let us share stories of how the journey of Pope Francis to us has led us to other journeys of faith and mission,” he said.
Pope Francis is scheduled to visit the Philippines on January 15 to 19, 2015.
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