CEBU CITY, Philippines (UPDATED) – The representative of Pope Francis, Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, arrived in Cebu City for the 51st International Eucharistic Congress that began Sunday, January 24.
Bo, the archbishop of Yangon, Myanmar, opened the IEC by presiding over a Mass at 4 pm on Sunday. (READ: Pope’s envoy at IEC 2016 hits death penalty, abortion)
Bishop Mylo Hubert Vergara, communications head for the IEC, described the papal legate as a cardinal “in touch with the peripheries.”
“Expect an Asian cardinal who will be one with us,” Vergara said in a news conference on Sunday. “We see here a cardinal who is in touch with the masses, so definitely, we will see Jesus in him.”
Held every 4 years, the IEC is one of the biggest events in the Catholic Church. The IEC tackles the Eucharist or the Mass, the most important form of worship for Catholics. (READ: From airport to mall, IEC vibe fills Cebu City)
The event draws the most important Catholic leaders, including Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle and New York Archbishop Timothy Cardinal Dolan, as speakers. (READ: IEC: The event that helped make Tagle a ‘papabile’)
Vergara said around 12,000 people have registered for the IEC. Of these registrants, around 1,500 delegates come from outside the Philippines, representing 72 countries.
Vergara called the IEC as a “spillover of grace” from the Pope’s trip to the Philippines in January 2015.
“Expect another one-week retreat,” Vergara said.
The Philippine National Police, for its part, appealed to Cebuanos to show their “sense of hospitality” in securing the thousands of IEC delegates.
Chief Superintendent Manuel Gaerlan told Cebuanos, “Protect our visitors.” – Rappler.com