Pope Francis urged to spend more time with ‘Yolanda’ survivors in pastoral visit
MANILA, Philippines—An official of the social action arm of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) is appealing to Pope Francis to spend more time with the people affected by Super Typhoon “Yolanda” (Haiyan) during his visit to the Philippines in 2015.
“The intention of the Pope in coming here is really to meet the survivors of the disaster. If he really wants to do that, then I think one day is not enough,” said Fr. Edwin Gariguez, executive director of the CBCP-National Secretariat for Social Action Justice and Peace (CBCP-NASSA).
“I’m just wondering why he would be spending only one day there (Leyte) and the rest of his stay will be spent in Manila. I hope…whoever was making the itinerary for his visit, they let him spend more time with the victims,” he added, stressing that he was only voicing out the sentiments of the affected residents eager to see the pope.
Pope Francis, who is scheduled to visit the Philippines from January 15 to 19, has expressed a wish to meet with survivors of “Yolanda,” the strongest typhoon to ever hit land, devastating Tacloban and much of Eastern Visayas on Nov. 8, 2013.
The Vatican is expected to announce his complete itinerary by the end of the year.
Archbishop John Du of Palo earlier said that based on the present schedule, the Holy Father would visit Leyte on Jan. 17 from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. He also said that only Manila and Leyte have been put in the Holy Father’s itinerary for now.
Du said the Archdiocese of Palo, which has ecclesiastical jurisdiction over the entire island of Leyte, was now busy preparing for the six-and-a-half-hour papal visit.
“I’m not trying to interfere with their plans, but I hope they consider the requests of the victims looking forward to meet the Pope. I hope he gets to visit other places, aside from Leyte, that were also affected by the typhoon,” said Gariguez.
“The people in Manila have all the time and the means to go to Rome to see the Pope as compared to these people who lost almost everything when the disaster struck. The victims are in Leyte, Samar, not in Manila,” he added.
“I’m not saying the Pope should not go to Manila. All I’m saying is that we’re hoping, we’re appealing, that he gets to spend more time with the victims,” he said.
“The Pope, I’m very sure doesn’t need a five-star hotel to stay longer in one place. Titira yun kahit saan. Handa siya na tumigil at makipamuhay sa mahihirap (He can live anywhere. He’s ready to stay and live with the poor),” Gariguez added.
Pope Francis will become the first ever Pontiff to visit Eastern Visayas, home to four million Catholics.
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