MANILA - The leader of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said the Philippines will not forget Pope Francis' 5-day visit which he blessed with his easy smile.
In a statement, CBCP President Socrates Villegas said the events and stories in the last five days will be retold time and again.
“We will never forget these five days. Our children and their children will never forget these five days, because we will tell them the stories of these five grace-filled days and they will tell them to their children,” he said.
Villegas, who was one of those who oversaw the five-day state and pastoral visit, said Pope Francis’ teachings will be forever embedded in the hearts of Filipinos.
“Your words in our stories will be imbedded in our and their hearts; a constant reminder of the love of Jesus; a voice pricking our conscience: love the poor, always have hope amidst trials, keep faith in the Lord, and pray, always pray. It is the voice of Jesus telling us, I am with you and I will not leave you orphans,” he said.
He thanked Pope Francis for showing the real meaning of “mercy and compassion.”
“In Tacloban, Holy Father, your voice pierced through the rains and strong winds. From your heart you intoned, Gracias!, looking up to the dark skies but clearly to heaven, and your gaze moving from the people patiently standing in the rain, to the image of the Blessed Mother tenderly holding the baby Jesus in her arms. Gracias!”
He said Pope Francis had a ready smile, one that came from the eyes.
“How easily your smile came when you caught sight of the people jubilantly gathered to greet you in the streets, especially, unmindful of the heat, and in Tacloban and Palo, unmindful of the rain and wind. How spontaneously did your face brighten at the sight of the young people and the children whom you embraced and carried in your arms,” he said.
He said Pope Francis is the human face of Jesus.
“We know that you, too, will not leave us orphans. That you will be with us, suffering with us who are poor, aged, sick, disabled, deaf, crippled, abandoned and ignored. Gracias Santo Padre for your tenderness as you comforted us and reassured us that Jesus will never abandon us.”