MANILA - Recent disasters in the Philippines beckoned Pope Francis to come sooner than expected, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle.
In a report from the CBCP News, Tagle was quoted as saying that, “I think one purpose of the visit of the Holy Father is to come close to the people who suffered from the recent typhoon and the earthquake.”
He said Pope’s possible visit to the devastated areas will be the “defining character of his trip.”
One thing is for sure, he said, the coming of the Pope is stronger than Yolanda.
Pope Francis sent his emissary to visit the devastated areas back in January. During a mass in Palo, Leyte, Cardinal Robert Sarah, President of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, gave a clue of the pope’s visit.
“I go now because I might be going there also,” said Sarah, recalling what the pope told him.
Pope Francis made known his plans on Tuesday, on his flight back from visiting the Holy Land. He is expected to arrive in January 2015.
Church officials earlier invited the pope for a visit in 2016.
“With regard to Asia, two trips are planned: the one to South Korea, for the meeting of young Asians, and then, next January, a two-day trip to Sri Lanka and then on to the Philippines, to the area affected by the typhoon,” the pope said.
Despite this, church officials have yet to receive official word from the Vatican.
“The Secretariat has not yet received any official communication from the Vatican or Nunciature,” said Fr. Marvin Mejia, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines secretary general.
In Malacanang, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said, “It is always a time of joy whenever the Pope comes to the Philippines. When Pope John Paul II came over, there was exuberance, and this is a moment of joy. It would be a joyous occasion, not only for Filipino Catholics, but also for the entire Philippines."