Manila (AsiaNews) - The arrival of level 2 Typhoon Amang on the island of Leyte has forced Pope Francis to shorten this stage of his Filippino tour by nearly four hours. The day spent on the island hit last year by Typhoon Yolanda which caused at least six thousand victims was the stated reason for this trip, to meet the survivors and bring them comfort and solidarity. "When in Rome I saw the devastation of Typhoon, I knew I had to be here, that day I decided to make this trip," he said today, during the Mass celebrated at the airport in Tacloban.
The bad weather, which caused a victim - a 27 year old woman hit by a collapsed scaffolding - has forced the Pope to cut short his time, but Francis nevertheless sought to keep all of his commitments, albeit shortening them greatly. After Mass he went straight to the residence of Archbishop of Palo, which was semi-destroyed by Typhoon Yolanda, as most of the major structures of the archdiocese, including the cathedral and several seminaries. The building - currently being completely - is on a hill and its slopes will be home to a hospice for the elderly and orphans, funded by the Pope and named after him, which was to be blessed by Francis. The Pope blessed it as he passed it in his car, but was unable to get out of the vehicle to visit it.
Along the road to Palo, the Pope visited the
small home of a family of fishermen, with their children,
hard hit by the typhoon. There he was able to spend at least ten
In the cathedral of Palo, Pope was scheduled to give a speech to the religious gathered there but was only able to improvise a brief greeting, standing near the altar, leaving behind his prepared text and apologizing for having to shorten the meeting, while praying a "Hail Mary" with those present.
In the speech, which Francis to be made public, he comments on the Gospel of Mark, where it says that "the criterion by which we treat the poor will be the one with which we shall be judged." He asks that the poor and needy "be treated fairly - that their dignity be respected, that political and economic policies be just and inclusive, that opportunities for employment and education be developed, and that obstacles to the delivery of social services be removed".
A lunch with the survivors of the typhoon was also
supposed to have been part of the one day program. Holy See Press Office director
Father Federico Lombardi confirmed that the lunch
took place "but it was very quick, there were 30 people, who all survived
the typhoon". Although the
lunch was fast, each
of them was presented to the
Pope and spoke with him
On returning to Manila Francis wanted to make the route to the Nunciature, where he resides, with an open topped jeep to be able to greet the faithful still present today in large numbers lining the streets.