Pope Francis waves to the crowd gathered along Burgos Street near Taft Avenue on Friday as he travels from Malacañang, where he met with President Aquino, to the Manila Cathedral for his first Mass in his five-day visit to the Philippines. Photo: ABS-CBN News
MANILA - Pope Francis sees the future of the Catholic Church in Asia, shared Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, after the Supreme Pontiff concluded his activities for the second day of his visit to the Philippines.
During a press conference at the Diamond Hotel in Manila on Friday evening, Tagle shared that Pope Francis was amazed by the thousands of Filipino faithful who never stop to line up on the streets until his last motorcade of the day.
"When he saw the crowds again, he said, 'Wow! The Filipinos are energetic! You don't get tired!' And well, I said, 'We are youthful!'" Tagle recalled, laughing.
"And he said, 'That's true.' He said, 'There is a promise there. The future of the Church is here in Asia. As it was in Sri Lanka, the youthfulness of the Church... The future is here," Tagle said, quoting the Pope.
Pope Francis is in the Philippines, considered as Asia's bastion of Catholicism, for a five-day pastoral and state visit. Before his trip to Manila, he was in Sri Lanka for a three-day visit.
On day 2 of his visit to the Philippines, he first paid a courtesy call on President Benigno Aquino III in Malacañang, where he delivered his first public speech in the country.
He then celebrated Mass at the newly-restored Manila Cathedral, with about 2,000 bishops, priests, nuns, and the religious.
In his speech at Malacañang Palace and in his homily at the cathedral, Pope Francis talked about the same key points -- to reject corruption and to live a life of poverty.
Before riding his popemobile and going back to the Apostolic Nunciature following the Mass, the Pope crossed a street towards a shelter for street children.
"It was a beautiful, beautiful encounter. You could see the Holy Father in his elements," Tagle said. "You could see his eyes getting cloudy, beginning to fill with tears. You could see he was trying to show his affection to the children and at the same time trying to fathom these deep wounds and pain."
POPE FRANCIS AS A PASTOR
The meeting with the children of Tulay ng Kabataan was not part of the Pope's official program this day.
The meeting, which both Tagle and Vatican press office director Fr. Federico Lombardi described as "a moving encounter," only shows the spontaneity of Pope Francis, Lombardi said.
"You have really experienced Pope Francis as pastor, in his spontaneity and enthusiasm, and spirit of being happy with the people," Lombardi said during the press briefing.
The Pope Francis that the Filipino people witnessed today is the "true and best" self of the pontiff, he added.
Lombardi said Pope Francis, who, in the afternoon, held another motorcade then met with families and the poor at the Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena where he also blessed children, the sick, the elderly and persons with disability (PWDs), appreciates the values and religiosity of the Filipinos.
He said Filipinos, according to the Pope, "are known for their love of God" and "warm devotion to our Lady and her rosary."