Filipinos walk past a picture of Pope Francis Nov. 20 at a museum dedicated to the pope inside a Manila cathedral where he is scheduled to celebrate Mass during his Jan. 15-19 trip to the Philippines. Philippine church officials say pope's visit will bri ng healing to the country, which was devastated by a 2013 typhoon. CNS photo/Ritchie B. Tongo, EPA

Pope's Philippine's visit for healing, not fundraising

By  Simone Orendain, Catholic News Service
  • November 23, 2014

MANILA, Philippines - Philippine Church officials expect the Pope's Jan. 15-19 visit to bring healing to victims of disasters. They also emphasized that the visit will not be a fundraising event for the Church.

Members of the media relations committee for the papal visit told reporters Nov. 20 that the Vatican sought a cap on spending for Pope Francis' visit. They said the Pope had requested that money saved go toward rebuilding after disasters such as Typhoon Haiyan, one of the most powerful tropical cyclones to hit the Philippines. The pontiff's visit includes a stop in Tacloban and nearby Palo, cities in the central Philippines where the November 2013 typhoon took the most lives of the 7,300 dead and missing.

Msgr. Marvin Mejia, secretary-general of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines, said bishops were chipping in toward the costs of the visit out of their own pockets. He said they had not yet tallied how much has been given.

He also said the only special seating at the Pope's outdoor Mass in Manila would go to the poor and people with disabilities in groups of five from all dioceses across the country; everyone else would get in on a first-come, first-served basis. The conference and the Archdiocese of Manila have been reminding the faithful that no tickets are being sold to any papal events, and they have warned against scammers.

Mejia reiterated the theme of Pope Francis' visit to the Philippines, which is "Mercy and Compassion."

"And his presence will be a healing presence for us Filipinos," Mejia told Catholic News Service.

Fr. Anton Pascual, head of the media relations committee, said the theme is not just for Catholics.

"It's for all victims of calamities, whether Catholic or non-Catholic ... both man-made and natural," he said.

Pascual told CNS that "Mercy and Compassion" also refers to solidarity.

"It's a very profound mission of the Church — solidarity with the victims of calamities," said Pascual. "The Pope ... is coming to the victims in the spirit of oneness to be one with them. When one suffers everybody suffers. We feel the suffering of other people because we are part of one humanity, we are brothers and sisters under Christ."

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