Church urges spiritual preparation for papal visit

Among Pope Francis's possible activities is a visit to Leyte, which was devastated by the deadly super typhoon Haiyan last November.

July 09 2014, 2:44 PM
Church urges spiritual preparation for papal visit
Archbishop Socrates Villegas.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said Catholics must prepare the nation to receive the pope, “the messenger of peace, love and the apostle of the poor” and called for months of spiritual preparation before the imminent visit of Pope Francis.

During a press conference at the Pope Pius Center in Manila on July 7, CBCP president Archbishop Socrates Villegas said that the “underlying spirit” of the papal visit is the theme of “mercy and compassion,” and the most distinctive way to prepare spiritually for the coming of Pope Francis is for the country to become “a people rich in mercy”.

“Let us make mercy our national identity. Trust in God’s mercy is part and parcel of our traditional Filipino Christian culture. Let us make the practice of mercy our gift to the pope when he comes to visit us,” he said.

The pope is expected to arrive in the Philippines in January 2015, but the Vatican is yet to announce the exact date and specific itinerary of the visit.

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila said the Vatican may officially announce the date of the papal visit this month or August and the itinerary by November.

Among his possible activities is a visit to Leyte, which was devastated by the deadly super typhoon Haiyan last November.

This will be the fourth papal visit to the Philippines, with Pope Francis being the third pontiff to visit the country.

“He comes to confirm us in or faith as we face the challenges of witnessing the Joy of the Gospel in the midst of our trials. This is an eloquent way of showing mercy and compassion,” Archbishop Villegas said.

The bishops encouraged the Filipinos to resolve to make an act of mercy everyday such as giving food to the hungry, helping build homes for the typhoon victims, visiting the prisoners, or the charity ward of hospitals, drug rehabilitation centers, homes for the elderly and orphanages.

“Being polite to the children and infants, to the sick and the elderly are great acts of mercy,” they said.

“When the Pope comes, he will bring with him the message of the mercy and compassion of God,” Villegas added.

“When he meets us, may he see in us a people touched by the mercy of God, living out the compassion of God, a people truly rich in mercy and compassion and grateful to those who have mercy to us especially after various calamities hit our country,” he said.

Source: CBCP News