Pope holds Mass in rainy Tacloban

By Philip Pullella and Manuel Mogato, Reuters
Posted at 01/17/2015 10:18 AM


TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines – Storms greeted Pope Francis when he arrived in the central Philippines city of Tacloban on Saturday to pray for the dead and comfort survivors of Typhoon Haiyan, the country’s worst natural disaster that killed 6,300 people barely a year ago.

Tens of thousands of people wearing yellow raincoats cheered when Francis emerged from his plane in the coastal city of Tacloban 650 km (400 miles) southeast of Manila in steady rain and strong winds.

Francis began a Mass near Tacloban airport wearing a transparent yellow poncho over his vestments as heavy rain and strong winds lashed a large crowd of worshippers, who stood amid puddles in a mud-soaked field.

The storm was an eerie reminder of Haiyan, which hit the same area with 250 kph (155 mph) winds and created a seven-metre high storm surge, wiping out almost everything in its path when it swept ashore on Nov. 8, 2013.

Francis’s day trip to Leyte province gives him another opportunity to speak about climate change ahead of a major document on the environment he is due to issue in June.

The Pope will celebrate Mass at the airport and then see for himself the devastation wrought by Haiyan, the strongest storm to make landfall on record, when he goes to the nearby town of Palo to have lunch with survivors.


Speaking at the presidential palace on Friday, the Pope admired the “heroic strength, faith and resilience” shown by the Philippines as well as the solidarity people demonstrated after the typhoon.

The storm destroyed around 90 percent of the city of Tacloban in Leyte province. More than 14.5 million people were affected in six regions and 44 provinces. About one million people remain homeless.

The government estimates it needs almost 170 billion pesos ($3.8 billion) to rebuild the affected communities, including the construction of a four-metre high dike along the 27-km (17 miles) coastline to prevent a repeat of the disaster.

Nearly 3,000 victims are buried in the city’s almost half-hectare mass grave site. Hundreds are still unaccounted for.

Germanwatch, a think tank partly funded by the German government, said in a report last year the Philippines was the country hardest hit by extreme weather in 2013.

Francis waded into the climate change debate on Thursday, telling reporters that he believed that man was primarily responsible for climate change and that he hoped this year’s U.N. climate meeting in Paris would take a courageous stand to protect the environment.

The Pope said his long-awaited encyclical on the environment was almost finished and that he hoped it would be published in June, ahead of the U.N. conference in November.

“I don’t know if it is all (man’s fault) but the majority is. For the most part, it is man who continuously slaps down nature,” he told reporters on the way to Manila.

Those words were his clearest to date on climate change, which has sparked worldwide debate and even divided conservative and liberal Catholics, particularly in the United States.

“I think man has gone too far,” he said. “Thank God that today there are voices that are speaking out about this,” he said.


Pictures capturing the spirit of the Pope’s visit in Tacloban City




Pope tells ‘Yolanda’ survivors: I’m here to be with you

By Kathlyn dela Cruz, ABS-CBNnews.com
Posted at 01/17/2015 11:01 AM | Updated as of 01/17/2015 11:07 AM


MANILA – Pope Francis flew to Tacloban City, Leyte on Saturday to celebrate Mass with thousands of survivors of super typhoon Yolanda and give them hope that all is not lost despite the tragedy.

Light rains, accompanied by strong winds, brought about by typhoon Amang did not dampen the spirit of the Pope, who is now on the third day of his visit to the Philippines, to hold Mass at the makeshift stage at the Tacloban Airport.

“When I saw from Rome the catastrophe, I felt that I had to be here,” the Pope said in his homily, in Spanish. “And on those very days, I decided to come here. I am here to be with you. A little bit late, I have to say, but I am here.”

Yolanda, the strongest and deadliest typhoon to hit land, struck the Philippines on November 8, 2013.

It claimed the lives of at least 6,300 people and injured 28,000 others. About 1,000 individuals remain missing over a year after the onslaught of the super typhoon.

Yolanda also came as the country was still reeling from the devastating effects of the magnitude 7.2 earthquake in Bohol in October, and the siege of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in Zamboanga in September.

“‘Father,’ you might say to me, ‘I was let down because I lost so many things — my house, my livelihood — I have illness.’ It’s true if you would say that and I respect those sentiments,” Pope Francis said, addressing the thousands of Filipino faithful who braved the streets to hear his Mass.

“But Jesus there, nailed to the cross, from there, He does not let us down,” the Pope said, as some devotees started weeping openly while listening to the pontiff’s homily.

“There, He experienced all calamities that we experience… We have a Lord who is capable of crying with us, capable of walking with us, in the most difficult moments of life,” he added.

Most of the typhoon survivors might have, at one point in their lives, questioned the Lord why it was them who was struck by the tragedy, said the Pope.

Pope Francis did not attempt to offer any answers, admitting that he himself does not know how to respond to the question.

But he said the victims of the disaster must not lose hope and just continue to cling to the Lord.

“So many of you have lost everything. I don’t know what to say to you, but the Lord does know what to say to you. Some of you lost part of your families. All I can do is keep silence and walk with you all with my silent heart.”

“Many of you have asked the Lord, ‘Why, Lord?’ And to each of you to your heart, Christ responds from His heart upon the cross. I have no more words to say to you. Let us look to Christ. He is the Lord. He understands us because He underwent all the trials that we, that you, have experienced,” he said.

“In the moments when we have so much pain, when we no longer understand anything, all we can do is grab hold of her (Mary) hand firmly, and say ‘mom’ as a child says to her mother when he or she feels fear,” he added.

Pope Francis ended his homily by telling the crowd that they are not alone. They must strive to move forward together, he said.

“Please know that Jesus never lets you down. Please know that the love and tenderness of Mary never lets you down… Let us move forward, always forward, and walk together as brothers and sisters in the Lord, forward,” the Pope said.


Pope Francis Praises Typhoon Haiyan Survivors and Filipino Migrant Workers

Pope Francis on Climate Action: A Revival of ‘The Commons’ to Rethink Economy & Society

Progressive Graffiti

Pope Francis is making a statement not just for Catholics, but for the world.

Pope Francis Plea for Climate Action Revives Concept of ‘The Commons’ to Rethink Economy & Society

We continue our coverage of Pope Francis’s visit to the Philippines, the country most impacted by global warming, ahead of his plans to issue the first-ever comprehensive Vatican teachings on climate change. The pope recently said the warming planet is ‘frequently exploited by human greed and rapacity.’

We are joined by Nathan Schneider, a columnist at America magazine, a national Catholic weekly magazine published by the Jesuits, where he has been covering Catholic engagement with climate change. ‘[The Commons] is a different way of thinking about economics that is a part of Catholic tradition,’ Schneider says. ‘Pope Francis talking about the environment, about creation, is not an innovation; it is a response to a contemporary crisis. But it goes way…

View original post 43 more words


















Apl, Jessica Cox honored for helping Yolanda survivors

By Don Tagala, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

Posted at 06/18/2014 9:54 AM | Updated as of 06/18/2014 9:54 AM

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Filipino-American armless pilot Jessica Cox and international entertainer Apl.de.Ap were recognized by the Philippine Embassy for donating their time and resources in helping in the recovery efforts in areas devastated by typhoon Yolanda.

Cox received a plaque of achievement for her excellence in motivational speaking and her advocacy for the disabled.

She has partnered with Handicap International to help those who were disabled during Typhoon Yolanda’s devastation.”They (Handicap International) are really the ones who should be honored and all that they have gone through and the fact that they are resilient and they inspire me,” Cox said.

Allan Pineda Lindo, more popularly known as Apl.de.Ap of the group Black Eyed Peas, was presented with a plaque of achievement for his contributions in raising the profile of Filipinos and the Philippines in the US.

His philanthropic work in the Eastern Visayas in the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda was also recognized.

Apl is scheduled to conduct music and arts camp for children in the affected areas.”It gives me a great deal of motivation to keep doing what I’m doing–to give the youth of the Philippines a chance to compete against the world through education, music and technology. So very honored to be here and for the recognition,” he said

The event took place as the embassy also marked the Philippines’ 116th Anniversary of the Declaration of Philippine Independence.Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Cuisia Jr. proposed a toast during Philippine Independence Day reception at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.”To the happiness and prosperity of the people of the Philippines and the people of the United States and enduring alliance and friendship between our two countries. The spirit of peace, independence, freedom and democracy. Mabuhay. Cheers,” he said.Cuisia said President Obama’s recent visit and show of support for the Philippines is a manifestation of this long standing friendship.”We will always remember President Obama’s reiterations of the US’ iron clad commitment in a statement that — and I quote — ‘Allies never stand alone,’” Cuisia told a crowd at the reception.

US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel said that the oldest security alliance in Asia is now even stronger with the recently signed Defense Cooperation Agreement.“The bottom line is, as President Obama said: Friends are there for each other and the Philippines has many friends,” Russel said.


King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden



Help the Philippines, Pope Francis says on Christmas


Posted at 12/25/2013 7:39 PM | Updated as of 12/26/2013 12:57 AM

MANILA (UPDATED) – Pope Francis, celebrating his first Christmas as Roman Catholic leader, on Wednesday prayed for help for the typhoon-hit Philippines.

Speaking to tens of thousands of people from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica, the same spot where he emerged to the world as pope when he was elected on March 13, Francis described Catholic-majority Filipinos as “beloved people”.

“Lord of heaven and earth, look upon our planet, frequently exploited by human greed and rapacity,” he said. “Help and protect all the victims of natural disasters, especially the beloved people of the Philippines, gravely affected by the recent typhoon.”


In a Christmas morning mass at the Sto. Niño Church in Tacloban, the Papal Nuncio to the Philippines assured survivors of super typhoon Yolanda that they are not alone.

Archbishop Giuseppe Pinto said the world is ready to help Filipinos recover from the typhoon.He also brought with him a message of hope from Pope Francis.”Despite the tragedy you face, you are not alone. God is with you, god is with us,” he said.”It is my privilege to bring to you the solidarity of his holiness, Pope Francis,” he added. “You know how much he cares for you. He keeps you in his prayers, and he wants to assure you of the faithful love of God.”He also called for dialogue to end the conflict in South Sudan and all wars, saying everyone should strive to be personal peacemakers.

Aid continues to flow into typhoon-devastated areas, underscoring a massive local and international relief effort launched in Yolanda’s aftermath.

The typhoon, the strongest to ever hit land, struck central Philippines on November 8, destroying almost everything in its path. It killed over 6,000 people, left nearly 1,800 missing.

The United Nations recently announced an appeal for $800 million of funding to provide 12 months of assistance for 14 million people affected by the typhoon.

The funds would be used to provide access to food, shelter, water, health and sanitation services.Call for peacePope Francis, in his first “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and world) message on Christmas day, also made another appeal for the environment to be saved from “human greed and rapacity”.

He wove his message around the theme of peace.

He called for “social harmony in South Sudan, where current tensions have already caused numerous victims and are threatening peaceful coexistence in that young state.”He also called for dialogue to end the conflicts in Syria, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Iraq, and prayed for a “favourable outcome” to the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians.”Wars shatter and hurt so many lives!” he said, saying their most vulnerable victims were children, elderly, battered women and the sick.

The thread running through the message was that individuals had a role in promoting peace, either with their neighbour or between nations. The message of the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem was directed at “every man or woman who keeps watch through the night, who hopes for a better world, who cares for others while humbly seeking to do his or her duty,” he said.”God is peace: let us ask him to help us to be peacemakers each day, in our life, in our families, in our cities and nations, in the whole world,” he said.Breath of fresh airPilgrims came from all over the world for Christmas at the Vatican and some said it was because they felt Francis had brought a breath of fresh air to the Church.”(He) is bringing a new era into the Church, a Church that is focusing much more on the poor and that is more austere, more lively ..” said Dolores Di Benedetto, who came from the pope’s homeland, Argentina, to attend Christmas eve Mass.

Giacchino Sabello, an Italian, said he wanted to get a first-hand look at the new pope: “I thought it would be very nice to hear the words of this pope close up and to see how the people are overwhelmed by him.”In his speech, Francis asked God to “look upon the many children who are kidnapped, wounded and killed in armed conflicts, and all those who are robbed of their childhood and forced to become soldiers.”

He also called for a “dignified life” for migrants, praying tragedies such as one in which hundreds died in a shipwreck off the coast of the Italian island of Lampedusa are never repeated, and made a particular appeal against human trafficking, which he called a “crime against humanity”. – with reports from Reuters, ANC