Pope in Tacloban: ‘I am here to be with you’

Pope in Tacloban: ‘I am here to be with you’
'Jesus will be there for us,' Pope Francis tells Yolanda survivors in a touching homily in Tacloban
TACLOBAN, Philippines (UPDATED) – “I am here to be with you. A little bit late, I have to say, but I’m here.” In his homily during a mass for thousands of survivors of Super Typhoon Yolanda at the airport in Tacloban, Pope Francis asked them to allow him to speak in his native language Spanish.
“Jesus will be there for us,” Francis, wearing a raincoat, said through an interpreter. “In his passion he assumed all our pain. When I saw from Rome that catastrophe, I felt I had to be here. And on those very days I decided to come here.” (READ: Full text of Pope Francis’ homily in Tacloban)
He noted that it was 14 months ago since the typhoon struck the region, flattening communities and killing at least 6,000. It was the worst disaster to hit the Philippines.
“I come to tell you that Jesus is lord and he never lets us down,” the Pope said.
But he hastened to add, “Father, you might say to me, I was let down because I’ve lost so many things, my house, my livelihood. I respect those sentiments. But Jesus there [pointing to a cross at the makeshift stage] was nailed to the cross and from there he does not let us down.”
The Pope reminded the crowd that Jesus, too, experienced many calamities. “He’s there for you,” he said.
“Many of you lost everything. I don’t know what to say to you. Many have asked, why, Lord?” He said: “All I can do is keep silent.” 
Many of the survivors were in tears as he spoke.
IN TEARS. A devotees prays during a mass led by Pope Francis at the DZR airport in Tacloban on January 17, 2015. Photo by Johannes Eiselle/AFP
The event was made more symbolic by the weather: Tropical Storm Amang intensified Saturday and put the city and nearby provinces under storm signal no. 2.
Despite this, the Pope decided to push through with his trip here because it is his priority. He left an hour ahead of his original departure time at Villamor Airbase in Pasay City.
Church officials earlier said this trip was the Pope’s priority and that he was willing to have other events cancelled except his itinerary in Leyte. 
The weather did not dampen the high spirits of the people who waited since last night for the Pope’s arrival. (WATCH: Leyte braves storm for Pope Francis)
The mass began at 9:27 am, an hour ahead of the original schedule. Among the concelebrants is Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle.
A doctor from Palo, Leyte, did the first reading during the mass in the local dialect. She lost 11 members of her family due to Yolanda.
After the mass, the Pope is scheduled to go to Palo, Leyte, where he will meet with Yolanda survivors. – Rappler.com

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