Pope’s envoy visits Tacloban, provides comfort to residents
TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines—He came with relief goods, saw the devastated churches and brought with him prayers from Pope Francis.
The apostolic nuncio to the Philippines, Archbishop Giuseppe Pinto, flew into Tacloban City on Tuesday to give comfort to the survivors of Supertyphoon “Yolanda.”
“This shows that the Holy Father, through our papal nuncio, cares for us with his presence. He gave us hope and inspiration,” Fr. Amadeo Alvero, spokesperson of the Archdiocese of Palo, said of the visit of the papal representative.
Pinto, accompanied by Palo Archbishop John Du, was welcomed by priests from the Sto. Niño Parish, led by Msgr. Alex Opiniano and Tacloban Mayor Alfred Romualdez.
The prelate visited typhoon-damaged churches in Tacloban, such as Sto. Niño Church, St. Jude Church, Our Lady of Guadalupe in Abucay area and Our Lady of Immaculate Concepcion in Bagacay.
Later, he went to an evacuation center at Kapangian Elementary School, where he gave gifts to more than 100 children. He also gave relief packs to 165 families.
Pinto also visited the area where a commercial vessel washed inland by Yolanda remained stuck, Alvero said in a phone interview.
At St. Jude Church, the papal nuncio said a brief prayer.
In his two-day visit, Pinto will make an assessment of the conditions of the churches destroyed by Yolanda, according to Alvero.
Practically all of the more than 80 churches in the Archdiocese of Palo sustained damage, Alvero said.
Our Lady of Transfiguration Cathedral in Palo suffered major damage, its entire ceiling destroyed. The cathedral underwent a major facelift last October, costing more than P14 million.
The nuncio was to hold Mass at 10 p.m. on Tuesday at the Palo cathedral. On Wednesday, he will hold Mass at Sto. Niño Parish Church in Tacloban before returning to Manila.
‘People are not alone’
In an article on the website of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), Du said the nuncio was determined to visit the ravaged areas despite the challenging conditions there.
“I will sleep wherever you sleep,” Du quoted Pinto as telling him.
Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma said Pinto had been in touch with the Church’s relief efforts in the affected areas.
According to Palma, the nuncio would often come to Cebu City, where Caritas International’s command center is currently based.
“These are some of the ways on how we can help to make people feel that they are not alone. We are willing to journey with them,” Palma said. With a report from Nina P. Calleja in Manila
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