Pope Francis visited the Philippines in 2015 on a papal visit termed “A nation of Mercy and Compassion”. The visit recorded the highest turn out exceeding the crowd at the World Youth Day which was the highest gathering for a papal visit at the time.
Though a lot can be said about the visit, very little is said about the reason behind the visit.
Why did the Pope visit the Philippines? The Pope’s Apostolic visit was in order to console the victims of ‘Yolanda’ super typhoon which was the strongest typhoon making landfall in history. Pope Francis had also wanted to visit the Philippines as his predecessor was unable to do so.
The people of Philippines definitely appreciated this visit as they came en masse to welcome the Pope. The three days of his visit were declared public holidays and the Philippines definitely took advantage of it.
The purpose and impact of his visit were felt all through the country.
What Was The Purpose Of The Pope’s Visit?
The Pope’s visit to the Philippines was not without an agenda or purpose and every day of the visit was tailored to fulfilling that purpose.
In the spirit of mercy and compassion, the Pope’s visit touched the hearts of many especially the victims of ‘Yolanda’, the typhoon Haiyan that the Pope despite all odds went to see.
On January 15, the Pope arrived at the Philippines’ air base at 5:32 pm. He was welcomed by various government officials including the President and highly regarded religious officials.
The next day, Pope Francis drove to the Malacanang Palace. President Benigno Aquino III met with the Pope and there was a meeting held with other diplomats and officials at Rizal Memorial Hall.
At the gathering, the President gave a speech addressing the roles of the church in the country. Pope Francis spoke after the President’s speech urging politicians to shun corruption and pay attention to the needs of the poor.
After the meeting, there was a closed off mass held at Manila Cathedral consisting of just Bishops, Nuns, Priests, Seminarians, and 500 lay persons. Before the mass, the Pope and Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle had met with some street children fed by the Tulay ng Kabataan Foundation.
On Saturday, the Pope traveled to Tacloban by 7:37 am. Using the Philippines airlines, he arrived at Tacloban around 8:50 am to be welcomed by the Palo Archbishop John F. Du. At the airport, the Pope conducted a mass in the Celebration of the Eucharist.
He had lunch with the survivors of the typhoon Haiyan. He also blessed the Pope Francis Center for the Poor that was completed in December 2014. The Pope held a brief meeting with the religious leaders. His visitation was cut short due to the brewing Tropical Storm Mekkhala.
The Pope met with representatives of other religions on Sunday after which he also met with about 24,000 youth representatives at Santo Tomas Field. The concluding mass for the Pope’s visit was held at Quirino Grandstand in Luneta Park.
This mass was open to the general public and it witnessed a massive turn out of over six million people, making it the largest mass during a papal visit.
The people sang the World Youth Day Anthem ‘Tell the World of His Love’ and the theme song for the Pope’s visit ‘We Are All God’s Children’.
On Monday, the Pope was ready to take off after a send-forth ceremony with the President, cabinet officials and other government officials.
Prominent religious leaders were also in attendance. The Pope’s visit definitely touched the Philippines in a true spirit of mercy and compassion.
Did The Pope’s Visit Achieve Its Purpose?
Yes, the Pope’s visit definitely achieved its purpose. Despite the hurdles and challenges, Pope Francis ensured that the truth of the theme was conveyed to the Philippines especially the survivors of the typhoon.
Pope Francis visit touched the hearts of many and the comments of the Philippines showed that the visit was highly appreciated.
The papal visit was able to reach various aspects of the country and the Pope was able to meet with not just religious leaders but also political leaders.
Does The Pope Visit Countries Often?
While travel is not common to the papacy, Pope Francis, like a few of his predecessors, often visit other countries that request his presence.
The Pope that visited other countries the most is Pope John Paul II. He traveled far more than all of his predecessors, traveling approximately 31 times around the earth.
Pope Francis has gone on various visits ranging from international trips to unscheduled visits. Since 2013, the Pope has embarked on approximately 45 international trips.
Everywhere he goes, he holds a mass and blesses the people of the land. These visits help strengthen the faith of the Catholics in the land.