The Pope in the Philippines

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The Pope in the Philippines

By Iris C. Gonzales


Thierry Ehrmann under a Creative Commons Licence

Filipinos welcomed Pope Francis with shouts of happiness and tears of joy. The Pope is visiting the Philippines at a very difficult time.

He arrived from Sri Lanka at 5:30 p.m. on 15 January, at the Villamor Airbase. President Benigno Aquino III and some of his Cabinet welcomed him, and a strong wind blew away his white skull cap.

In the Philippines, there are many problems of inequality, corruption and poverty. It is a mainly Catholic country of 100 million people. A quarter of them live below the poverty line - they have less than $1 a day.

In the Pope’s first major speech of his five-day visit, he said leaders of the country must end the terrible inequality.

‘Many people in your country have said that it is more important than ever now that political leaders should be honest. They must want what is good for all the people,’ he said at the Presidential Palace.

‘The Bible tells us to listen to the poor. It tells us to stop injustice and oppression. These create terrible social inequality,’ Pope Francis also said.

At the Manila Cathedral on Friday after his speech in Malacanang, Francis also told Filipinos to fight against inequality and injustice.

‘The Bishops of the Philippines have said that the Church in the Philippines must see and fight against the deep causes of inequality and injustice. These are very bad for Filipino society, and they go against the teaching of Christ. The Gospel says Christians must be honest and work for the good of all people,’ he said.

The Pope said young priests and religious people must ‘share the joy and enthusiasm of the love for Christ and the Church.’ ‘Help young people who may be confused and have no hope, but they see the Church as their friend. Help people who, in a society with a lot of poverty and corruption, want to give up, to leave school and to live on the streets,’ he said.

He said all forms of corruption are bad, because this takes resources away from the poor.

Many Filipinos stood along the roads where the Pope traveled around the city in an open car or a black car with guards.

It is also important for him to visit Tacloban and Palo, Leyte, in the southern Philippines, to meet the victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda. The typhoon hit the country last year and killed at least 7,000 people.

‘The Pope is coming after the tragedy of the hurricane. He will encourage all people there who have suffered and are still suffering,’ said Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesperson.

All the people who live in Leyte want to see the Pope. Some people will be brave enough to go in the very big crowd to the mass.

Liezl Corales, a 30-year old massage therapist, said she might not go to work that day, because the Pope's visit is so important.

‘I will definitely be there with my son,’ said Corales. She wants to thank the Roman Catholic Pope because she did not die in Typhoon Yolanda.

On 8 November 2013, the day of the typhoon, Corales held her 6-year old son on her right arm and held a piece of metal with her other hand for hours. The school where they slept the night before was totally flooded.

In Manila, many Filipinos came to see the Pope. Some waited for many hours.

Emilio Usig, a 57-year old Catholic, was in the crowd.

‘I am very happy to see him. I am so happy and emotional,’ he said.

Now, the Pope has just finished the mass at the old Manila Cathedral. About 12,000 people in the crowd are very happy that he is there.

We hope that, after all the emotion, everyone will listen to the Pope’s words. We hope the leaders of the Philippines will list. They have the power and can help to stop poverty.

NOW READ THE ORIGINAL: (This article has been simplified so the words, text structure and quotes may have been changed).