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Pope needs to be close to Filipinos – Tagle

Katerina Francisco
Pope needs to be close to Filipinos – Tagle
The Manila archbishop says security officials should also consider the Pope's role as a pastor and his need to be in touch with the masses

MANILA, Philippines – The final touches for next week’s papal visit are underway, but Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle said officials should also remember that Pope Francis will be visiting not just as a head of state, but also as a pastor who wants to be close to the masses.

In a papal visit conversation organized by the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Saturday, January 10, Tagle said the Argentine pontiff has repeatedly preached the message of a Church close to the people.

“He started his papacy by saying, ‘Let the Church be less self-referential.’ Go to the people, to the peripheries. He will be eating his own words if he will be prevented from going out,” Tagle added.

The Manila archbishop also said the team in charge of the Pope’s security is putting the “final touches” in the preparations for the papal visit.

“Two days ago, we had a meeting in Malacañang. I heard from the presentation of [those in charge of the Pope’s safety] that one of the rules is: If you are a person in charge of security, you must be paranoid. And I saw how paranoid they are,” he said, drawing laughs from the audience.

“Part of their almost panic was [that] they know these are [their] capabilities. These are [their] equipment, and so if something drastic happens, how can they respond adequately? So they wanted things to really work out well,” he added.

With all the security preparations, Tagle said that he and other Church officials had to remind security officials that the Pope will be coming both as the head of state of Vatican City and as a pastor.

“After appreciating their effort, we also had to remind them that it is not just a head of state that is coming. [Pope Francis] is a pastor. And pastoral life is really about being connected. He, as a Latin American, and we as Asians [value] proximity and touch,” the Manila archbishop said.

The excitement and frenzy over the papal visit has been building up for weeks, as the Philippines – a predominantly Catholic Southeast Asian country – gets set to welcome the third pope to visit its shores.

But Tagle reminded the Catholic faithful that Pope Francis does not want to be the focus of the visit.

Francis had been concerned about the “stories and legends” being built around him, Tagle said. 

“[The Pope] said, ‘I should not be the focus, because I noticed that people are creating their own Pope Francis. I hear reports about myself, and I do not recognize myself in what people are saying. Who creates those legends? Where is the real Francis?” Tagle narrated, recalling a conversation with the pope.

Tagle added that the Pope does not want to be treated as a celebrity. “I’m a regular human being, but they are making me into a celebrity. That’s not me. Don’t focus on me, focus on Jesus.” – Rappler.com

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