PALO, Leyte- Archbishop John Du of the Archdiocese of Palo exhorted the faithful to welcome Pope Francis with all their hearts as a way of showing their gratitude for his visit to Leyte next week. Du made this appeal during a press conference held at the Archdiocese Palace, also known as Gonzaga Haus, as he stressed that the visit of the Holy Father is a “great privilege” for all the Catholics in the region. Francis is the first Pope to ever visit Eastern Visayas. He is slated to arrive at the Daniel Z. Romualdez (DZR) Airport where he will hold a Mass at the airport’s apron in the morning of his arrival on January 17. From Tacloban, Francis will travel to the nearby town of Palo where he will have a lunch with the survivors of supertyphoon “Yolanda” and the earthquake in Bohol.

The leader of the Roman Catholic will also inaugurate a facility named after him, the Pope Francis Center for the Poor, and meet with local members of the clergy at the Palo cathedral. Archbishop Du said that we should all feel lucky that no less than the Pontiff will come to archdiocese of Palo to personally console the survivors of the world’s strongest typhoon to make landfall in the world. “The presence of the Holy father is the presence of Jesus (Christ),” the archbishop said.

It is a very big grace that the representative of Peter, considered the right hand of Jesus Christ will visit the Archdiocese of Palo, Du added. He also said that everyone should exert efforts to be in one with the visit of the Holy Father. “We should be rejoicing. Let us open our hearts and really be of service to everyone for it is a privilege because he (Francis) will come to our place,” said Archbishop Du.
As host of the apostolic visit of the Pope, we will have the privilege of being the first beneficiary of the grace and that we should be enjoying that grace, said Archbishop Du.
He also emphasizes the need for the people to have empathy with others in consonance with the theme of the Pope’s visit which is mercy and compassion. (LIZBETH ANN A. ABELLA)