Pope Francis again extols Pinoys’ deep faith, resilience in face of tragedy as IEC closes
CEBU CITY, Philippines — Pope Francis again extolled the Filipino’s deep faith and resilience in the wake of devastation caused by the world’s strongest typhoon in 2013.
In his message aired through a live satellite feed from Rome during the closing Mass of the 51st International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) on Sunday, the Pope also announced that the next congress in 2020 would be held in Budapest, Hungary.
The Pope recalled his visit to Leyte on January 17, 2015 to be with the victims of supertyphoon “Yolanda.”
“I visited the Philippines in the wake of typhoon Yolanda. I was able to witness the first hand the deep faith and resilience of the people,” he said.
The Pope said the theme of the congress was very timely because it reminded the faithful that Jesus was present in His Church.
He pointed out that while the typhoon caused destruction, it also brought in the goodness of others.
“Here, I think, of the aftermath of the typhoon. It brought immense devastation to the Philippines. Yet, it also brought in its wake an immense outpouring of solidarity, generosity, and goodness. People seek about rebuilding not just homes but lives,” he said.
Close to one million devotees listened to the message of Pope Francis aired before the Mass’ final blessing at the San Pedro Calungsod Template inside the South Road Properties.
Councilor Dave Tumulak, head of the Cebu City command center, said the devotees occupied 15 of the 26-hectare lot inside the South Road Properties.
Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, Pope Francis’ representative to the 51st IEC, presided over the Mass attended by at least 1,500 priests, 200 bishops and seven cardinals.
In his message, Pope Francis urged the faithful to two gestures in the Lord’s last supper: fellowship and washing of the feet.
He stressed that Jesus shared meals, not only with his disciples but with sinners and outcasts.
“Sitting at the table, Jesus was able to listen to others to hear their stories to appreciate their hopes and aspirations to speak to them of the Father’s love,” he said.
The Pope urged the faithful to follow Jesus’ example by reaching out to others in a “spirit of respect and openness in order to share with them the gifts we ourselves have received.”
Jesus’ washing of the feet of his disciples was a sign of humble service and unconditional love, said Pope Francis.
“The eucharist is a call of humble service. It teaches us to be there for others,” he said.
Pope Francis said it was fitting that the congress was celebrated in the Year of Mercy in which the whole church was invited to concentrate on the heart of the Gospel.
“We have called to bring of God’s merciful love to the whole human family, binding up wounds, bringing hope where despair so often so seems to have the upper hand,” he said.
According to Pope Francis, the Eucharist speaks of others and enables the faithful to be caring, protective of the poor and the vulnerable and sensitive of the cry of those in need.
“It teaches us to act with integrity and to reject the injustice and corruption which poisons the roots of society,” he added.
He stressed the importance of every Christian becoming a true missionary disciple who would bring the good news of Christ’s love in the wake of injustice and humanitarian crisis.
In his Homily, Cardinal Bo, archbishop of Rangoon, Burma, praised the Philippines for its successful hosting of the 51st EIC.
He congratulated Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma and Cebu Auxiliary Bishop Dennis Villarojo, 51st IEC secretary-general, for “your meticulous organization” and “breaking the bread of hospitality.”
The Papal Legate admitted that he was afraid to represent Pope Francis to the weeklong congress. After seven days, he added, he didn’t want to leave.
“Nahigugma ako sa Sugbo. Nahigugma ako sa inyo pagkamabiabihon, sa inyong pahiyom, sa kalawom sa inyo pagtuo (I am in love with Cebu. I am in love with your warm welcome, your smile and the depth of your faith),” he said in Cebuano.
“We come from various countries and speak different languages. But the Eucharist deepened our relationship,” he said. “What a great host you are. Last seven days, you made us proud to be Catholics.”
“The fruits of IEC should be renewed apostolic and missionary zeal. Go and proclaim Christian hope. Philippines need hope. The church needs hope, our family needs hope,” he added.
Bo urged the Church to reach out to the youth, whom he said deserved understanding and not judgement.
“Instead of expecting the youth to return to the church, the church must return to the youth. A church that neglects the youth write its won death sentence,” he said.
The Philippines is twice blessed with strong family integrity and a lot of young people, according to Cardinal Bo.
He cited a survey showing a country with 52 percent of its population below 25 years old.
“What a blessing. This is the future of the Church,” he said.
Bo even urged the families to go multiply and bring the children to other parts of the world where there were more cats and dogs than children, referring to Europe and the United States where the vocations have been dying.
“If only leaders invest in the youth, you will be the strongest and richest country. Many of the rich countries don’t have children. The future doesn’t belong to countries that have oil and weapons. The future belongs to nation with young people,” said Bo.
“You need an EDSA revolution. A revolution of human development. Human development is new evangelization. And it starts today. SFM
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