Grieving father asks Pope Francis: Why did God take my only child?
MANILA, Philippines – "I only have one child. Why was she taken away from me?"
It was a question not even the Pontiff could answer.
"The Holy Father was searching for words. How do you console a father who lost his only child?" Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle said, recalling how Pope Francis reacted when he met Paulino Padasas. (READ: Pope Francis meets father of volunteer who died after Leyte Mass)
Padasas is the father of Kristel, the 27-year-old aid worker who died after Saturday’s papal Mass in Tacloban City.
Kristel worked with the Catholic Relief Service (CRS) during the Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) humanitarian crisis.
But what surprised the Pope was the strength of Padasas' spirit even as he grieves, Tagle said.
"I have accepted. I have resigned to the fact that my daughter is no longer with me. I rejoice she died serving the people," Tagle quoted Padasas as saying.
At this point, the only words that came out of the Pope's mouth were, "What faith, What faith!"
Pope Francis himself prayed for Kristel at the beginning of his message during his first encounter with the Filipino youth at the University of Santo Tomas (UST) in Manila Saturday morning. (READ: Pope Francis mourns death of Yolanda aid worker)
"I would like all of you, young like her, to pray in a moment of silence with me," the Pope said, describing the incident as “sad news.”
“Let us also pray for her parents. She was the only daughter. Her mom is coming from Hong Kong. The father has come to Manila to wait," Pope Francis said.
Pope called Kristel's mother
Padasas, who was still in shock from the death of his daughter when he talked to Pope Francis, said he did not expect the papal invitation.
"I decided to stay home, and watched everything on TV. She (Kristel) arranged this meeting," Padasas said, according to Tagle.
Kristel's uncle on the mother side joined Padasas in the private, intimate meeting. The Pope also wanted to talk to Kristel's mother who is working in Hong Kong but failed to reach her.
"There was an attempt to reach the mother in Hong Kong. But it was not possible," Vatican spokesperson Federico Lombardi said.
On Monday, the day Pope Francis will end his visit to the Philippines, Padasas' mother is coming home for her funeral. – Rappler.com