No security, bulletproof vehicles for Pope; safety prayers urged
LINGAYEN, Philippines—Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas is urging the faithful in his archdiocese to storm heaven with prayers for the safety of Pope Francis, who will visit the Philippines from Jan. 15 to 19 without bodyguards and bulletproof vehicles.
Citing the urgency of the situation on Sunday, Villegas said he hoped the archdiocese’s undertaking would be replicated across the Philippines.
In an advisory posted on the archdiocese’s website, www.rcald.org, Villegas said the obligatory novena for the papal visit must be prayed in the entire archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan from Jan. 6 to 14 at a time when most of the residents could participate.
Villegas also encouraged the faithful to pray the novena in all parishes, religious communities and in schools.
“As the apostolic visit of Pope Francis approaches, we are being asked to mobilize our Catholic faithful in our parishes to pray for the safety and security of the Holy Father while [he] is in the Philippines,” Villegas said.
“Unable to use the regular security precautions like bulletproof vehicles and armed security men, we turn to the Lord and ask him to keep the Holy Father safe from all harm,” he said.
Organizers in charge of Pope Francis’ transportation during his visit said the Argentine Pontiff, known for his preference for simplicity, had particularly requested that the popemobiles he would use would not be bulletproof and air conditioned.
These requests highlight the Church’s relationship with the Catholic faithful and a symbol of the Pope’s compassion toward the poor.
But the organizers said the request would also make the Pope “vulnerable, open and accessible to elements.”
Francis will use two popemobiles to travel around Manila and in Tacloban City.
“If we come together in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, we claim the Lord’s blessings of security, peace and order. God is our refuge; in His love, we are secure,” Villegas said.