Pope Francis says sorry for ‘impatience’ in Leyte

Paterno Esmaquel II
Pope Francis also thanks the local archbishop 'for the witness of faith and endurance which your people showed me in the midst of their trials'
'THANK YOU.' Pope Francis sends this letter of gratitude, dated January 21, to Palo Archbishop John Du. Photo from the Palo Archdiocese Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines – Pope Francis apologized “for any impatience” he showed during his trip to typhoon-hit Leyte, and said he is “deeply saddened” that a storm forced him to cut his visit short.

The Archdiocese of Palo revealed these details as it publicized on Tuesday, February 3, a letter signed by Francis and addressed to Palo Archbishop John Du.

In his letter dated January 21, Francis said: “I was deeply saddened that the weather warning forced us to anticipate our departure by 4 hours; this prevented a more relaxed visit with your people and in the cathedral later that afternoon. I ask your forgiveness for any impatience on my part at that time.”

Francis visited Leyte, the province worst hit by Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), on January 17.

He stayed in the Philippines from January 15 to 19, mainly to console disaster survivors.

Ironically in Leyte, he had to leave at 1 pm, instead of the original 5 pm, to escape the wrath of Tropical Storm Amang (Mekkhala). 

Ambassador Marciano Paynor Jr, director general of the National Organizing Committee for the Papal Visit, had told Rappler that Amang was the biggest threat to the Pope.

‘Pope in a Raincoat’

In a show of solidarity with disaster survivors, however, Francis said Mass outdoors in a raincoat even if he was given the option to do this indoors. (READ: Behind the scenes: The Pope most Filipinos didn’t see)

(Watch more in the video below)

His decision to say Mass in a raincoat – his first time to do so – is considered the defining moment of his trip to the Philippines.

After the Mass at the Tacloban Airport, he pushed through with his scheduled lunch with 30 disaster survivors in the Palo Archbishop’s residence.

He also briefly passed by the Palo Cathedral and the Pope Francis Center for the Poor.

LISTENING CLOSELY. Pope Francis was 'suffering' as he heard the stories of Filipino disaster survivors during his lunch with them on January 17, 2015, says Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle. Photo by Osservatore Romano/AFP

In his letter, the Pope also thanked Du for his hospitality, and prayed that the Lord would repay him “abundantly” for his goodness.

“I thank you, too, wholeheartedly, for the witness of faith and endurance which your people showed me in the midst of their trials. I will never forget this – may the Lord never permit to – and I will keep them in my prayers,” the Pope said.

He added: “I thank you for your pastoral example of strength and generosity in the service of the Church in Palo. May the Lord reward you greatly. I also ask you, please, to pray for me and to ask those entrusted to your care to do the same.”

“May the Lord bless you, and the Blessed Virgin protect you always.” – Rappler.com

Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.