Evangelicals, Muslims, and indigenous Filipinos, grateful for the pope's visit
Manila (AsiaNews) - As Pope Francis travels home to the Vatican, his visit to the Philippines elicits a growing number of favourable comments from various sources, not only from Catholics, but also from Evangelicals, Muslims and indigenous groups.
Pope Francis left the Filipino capital this morning. Yesterday he led a record-breaking Mass before a gathering of some seven million people, a figure officially confirmed by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority.
Overall, the historic event was handled with efficiency, precision and safety. There were no incidents or accidents despite the sea of humanity that came to hear the pope. The one sad exception was the death of Kristel Mae Padasas, a volunteer who was killed in Tacloban by a falling scaffold at the beginning of the meeting between Francis and typhoon Yolanda survivors.
Yesterday, the pope met with Kristel's parents at the Nunciature in Manila. The meeting lasted about 20 minutes. Card Luis Antonio Tagle and Vatican Press Office director Fr Federico Lombardi were present.
Fr Lombardi said that the young woman's father was deeply upset by the death of his only daughter, but comforted by the fact that her death was not meaningless since she worked on preparing the pope's visit to the Philippines.
Speaking about the visit, Evangelical leader Eddie Villanueva had nothing but good words for Pope Francis. Ahead of the event, the clergyman had urged the members of his Jesus Is Lord Church to join other Christians in meeting with the pontiff.
Villanueva described the pontiff's trip as a historical event that affects not only the Catholic Church, but also all those who truly pursue world peace.
Peace also dominated the reaction of Muslim religious leaders who positively assessed the pope's visit.
In Mindanao, the Philippines' southernmost island, where the autonomous province of Bangsamoro is soon to be created, several Muslim religious leaders praised the pope's calls for peace, dialogue and protection for the land and its natural resources, often plundered by multinational companies.
Some religious leaders associated with the National Democratic Front (NDF), a group that defends the rights of indigenous people, asked the pope to "bless the effort of Muslims and Christian peacemakers who have struggled together for peace" and to "pray with us that those who embrace the darkness and profit from armed conflict rather than from peace not steal this peace from us."
In a similar vein, Rev Ephraim S Fajutagana, president of the National Council of Churches, called on Pope Francis to ask the government and the NDF to get back to the negotiating table for a "lasting peace in our country."