Pope Francis to pray before Yolanda mass grave
MANILA, Philippines – Pope Francis will pray before the mass grave for Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) survivors in Palo, Leyte, on January 17, 2015, the Catholic Church said.
In an interview with the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) news service, Msgr Bernie Pantin said Francis will say “private prayers” there before he leaves Leyte in the afternoon of January 17.
Pantin is the vicar general of the Archdiocese of Palo, which covers the areas worst hit by Yolanda in 2013.
Quoting Pantin, CBCP News on Tuesday, December 16, revealed more details about the Pope's visit as it is exactly a month away. (READ: Francis' popemobile in PH: Open, not bulletproof)
Pantin said the Pope's activities in Leyte will begin with a Mass in the airport of Tacloban City, Leyte, with around 160,000 people who can be accommodated. Those who couldn't enter the airport can watch the Mass through the big screens outside, he said.
Then the Pope will proceed to the archbishop's residence in Palo, Leyte, to have lunch with 30 survivors of Yolanda and the magnitude-7.2 earthquake that hit the Visayas in 2013.
The following will join the Pope for lunch:
- 15 people from Leyte
- 5 from Borongan, Eastern Samar
- 5 from Calbayog, Samar
- 5 from Tagbilaran, Bohol
Pope's health a factor
The 78-year-old Pope will take a 30-minute siesta, or afternoon nap, after lunch.
Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle earlier said organizers factored in the Pope's age and health – part of his lungs is gone – in arranging his Philippine trip.
After his siesta, the Pope will bless the Pope Francis Center for the Poor in Palo, and meet around 50 persons with disabilities, orphans, and the elderly.
The Pope Francis Center had been used to shelter evacuees when Super Typhoon Ruby (Hagupit) battered the Philippines.
His last activity in Leyte is a meeting with priests, consecrated persons, and laypersons who survived Yolanda.
The Pope will fly to the Philippines in January with the main objective of visiting typhoon and earthquake survivors in the Visayas, the CBCP said. (READ: Vatican releases Pope's Philippine itinerary)
A CBCP official, however, questioned the length of the Pope's stay in disaster-stricken areas – only around 8 hours, the itinerary showed.
Justifying the Pope's 8-hour stay in Leyte, Tagle said it is the “quality” of the visit that matters. – Rappler.com