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Pope Francis plans to visit Tacloban

PALO, Leyte- Pope Francis might just visit Tacloban and Leyte to personally expressed his “closeness” with the people still reeling from the massive devastation caused by Yolanda.
This was revealed by Archbishop John Du as the Holy’s Father’s personal envoy, Robert Cardinal Sarah, assured the faithful that Francis expressed his “closeness” with them.
Sarah, who is the president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum which is the dicastery of the Holy See responsible for charity and humanitarian assistance- celebrated a Mass at the damaged Saint Elizabeth of Hungary mission station in Barangay Libertad, some four kilometers away from the town proper on January 28.
“The Holy Father might just come. There is a plan but there is no calendar yet (for this possible visit). But we are praying for it,” Du, the archbishop of Palo, told reporters in an interview.
Du said that the Holy Father had expressed his “oneness and solidarity” among the people of Leyte and the rest of the areas hit by supertyphoon on November 8 of last year.
Prior to the visit of Cardinal Sarah, Francis’ representative to the country, Archbishop Giuseppe Pinto, papal nuncio, visited Tacloban and this town last December.
The archbishop said that Yolanda might have caused much destruction to properties and loss of lives but it is turning out to be a “blessings” as high profile personalities are making their visits here.
Among the latest to visit Leyte and Tacloban, considered to be the Ground Zero of the massive typhoon, was King Carl VXI Gustaf of Sweden.
Earlier, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and US Secretary of Foreign John Kerry and international pop star Justin Bieber also visited Tacloban.
Cardinal Sarah, prior to the holding of the Mass at Libertad, made a quick visits to areas hit Yolanda in Tacloban. He visited the San Jose district and Old Road Sagkahan district.
“He was so disheartened when he saw the massive devastation of Yolanda in Tacloban,” former ambassador to the Vatican Henrietta de Villa, who was among those who accompanied the visiting cardinal, said.
Cardinal Sarah, in his homily, assured the faithful who attended the mass held at the Saint Elizabeth of Hungary Church, whose roofs were totally blown away and now temporarily covered with tarpaulin, that the Lord never leaves His people despite of the massive devastation they suffered due to Yolanda.
Cardinal Sarah underscored that his visit to Leyte and Tacloban was “in the name of the Holy Father, Pope Francis.”
“The Holy Father wishes to express in my person, the closeness and indeed the loving and compassionate presence to you of the Lord Jesus and the entire Church,” he said.
The Mass started at past 10 am or more than two hours after he arrived in Tacloban where he also paid a quick visit at the Mother of Mercy Hospital, also in the city.
The hospital, run by the Catholic Church, was destroyed due to Yolanda.
Father Dean Michael Calaneja, parish priest of the Saint Elizabeth of Hungary Church, said that they are happy that they were visited by a high official from the Vatican.
He also hoped that with the cardinal’s visit, repair of the 11 years old church would be hastened.
Archbishop Du said that practically all the more than 70 churches within the archdiocese were damaged or destroyed due to Yolanda.
He, however, could not say how much the entire archdiocese would be needed for the repair of these churches. But he said that the cathedral alone, located in Palo, would need about P35 million for its repair.

By: JOEY A.GABIETA

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