Manila (AsiaNews) - For Filipinos, "It's not enough that they're Catholics in name only," said Tarlac Bishop Florentino Cinense, as he commented on the preparations for Pope Francis' visit to the Philippines.
Calling on Filipino Catholics to deepen their knowledge of their faith in order to prepare themselves better for the apostolic visit, he said that the faithful with little knowledge of their Catholic beliefs should get ready to "share the faith with others".
Pope Francis will be in the country from 15 to 19 January 2015 and is due to visit areas devastated by typhoon Yolanda. Filipinos welcomed the news with great joy, the prelate said.
For Filipino Catholics who know little of their Catholic faith, this occasion should be seen as a challenge but also an opportunity to study it seriously.
For the bishop of Tarlac, it is high time for the Philippines to receive the spiritual blessings it badly needs given the current "sorry state" of things.
"I believe that the visit of the Pope will give us these blessings of unity, fraternity, love for one another, and ultimately, the progress that we have been looking for all these years," Cinense explained.
The prelate said that all Filipinos, including those in power, must learn to love one another for the sake of the common good, adding that unity is key to national progress.
The Philippines is the only Asian nation - with the exception of tiny East Timor - to have a Catholic majority. Out of a population of 97 million people, Catholics number 76,180,000.
Two popes - Paul VI in 1970 and John Paul II in 1981 and 1995 - have already visited the country.