Pope to hear Filipino families' stories
MANILA, Philippines – After a rockstar welcome and a meeting with government and Church officials, Pope Francis will end his second day in the Philippines by finally meeting his flock, to discuss with Filipino families the issues that concern them the most.
The family is very close to the pontiff’s heart. "It is very important to reaffirm the family, which remains the essential cell of society," the Pope had said during the July 2013 World Youth Day in Brazil. (READ: The Filipino family the Pope will meet)
The Friday, January 16 meeting with families at the Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena comes a few months after the Pope convened in October 2014 an Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops to discuss “pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelization.” (READ: The Filipino family the Pope will meet)
The crowd gathered at the arena is diverse – families in traditional tribal garb, groups of young priests-in-training, and members of different Christian organizations.
The Philippines’ different languages and regions will also take center stage, with intercessory prayers in Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilocano, Kapampangan, Hiligaynon, Waray and Bikolano.
Manila’s own Archibishop, Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle was the president-delegate of the Extraordinary Synod, wherein select Church leaders – presidents of the episcopal conferences – discussed issues such as same-sex marriage, a “crisis of faith,” migration, and violence against women and children, among other things.
Come October 2015, the Pope will once again convene leaders of the Catholic Church, this time for a Ordinary Synod where they will discuss the “vocation and mission of the family in the church and the modern world.”
Also in September 2015, the Pope will lead the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, USA.
The Asian voice
In Manila, the Pope will hear the testimonies of several families about their experiences with poverty, migration and disability. Their meeting begins at 5:30 pm.
Church officials from the Philippines had earlier identified these as 3 of the 4 pressing issues faced by families in the predominantly Catholic Philippines.
Although meeting families is nothing new to the Pope, the Manila meeting offers him – and the media – the chance to see the Asian perspective. It’s something that concerned Tagle during the Extraordinary Synod held in the Vatican.
“I was shaken by the fact that there was not a single Asian journalist in the hundreds and hundreds of international journalists. Sad to say there was also not a single African. The Sala Stampa or the press conference was really dominated by the West,” said Tagle in a briefing with reporters held after the synod.
“So I asked myself, ‘Who will report on the concerns of Asia? Who will report on the voice of Asia being raised in the Synod hall?’” the Cardinal continued.
The MOA event is the Pope’s first real interaction with the general Philippine public. Earlier Friday, the Pope went to Malacañang to meet government officials and then to the Manila Cathedral to lead a Mass with members of the Philippine clergy.
Sign language will also be used during one family’s testimony on living with disabilities in the family. – Rappler.com