Top Catholic Church officials expressed gratitude to Pope Francis for his four-day visit that was capped by a historic Mass at the Rizal Park.
Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle thanked the Pontiff for inspiring and touching the lives of the Filipino faithful.
“In the name of the Archdiocese of Manila, the people who worked tirelessly for your pastoral visit, and the Filipinos whom you have been strengthened in faith these past days, I once again say Thank You. I say ‘Maraming Salamat po’ [Thank you very much] on behalf of the street children, the orphans, the widows, the homeless, the informal settlers, the laborers, the farmers, the fisher folk, the sick, the abandoned elderly, the families of missing persons, the victims of discrimination, violence, abuse, exploitation, human trafficking, the Filipino migrant workers and their families, the survivors of natural calamities and armed conflicts, the non-Christian Catholics, the followers of non-Christian religions, the promoters of peace especially in Mindanao and creation that groans,” the Cardinal said.
“You arrived in the Philippines three days ago. Tomorrow you will go. Every Filipino wants to go with you—not to Rome—but to the peripheries, to the shanties, to prison cells, to hospitals, to the world of politics, finance, arts, sciences, culture, education, and social communications. We will go to these worlds to bring the light of Jesus, Jesus who is the center of your pastoral visit and the cornerstone of the Church. We will go where the Light of Jesus is needed,” he said.
He also assured Pope Francis that the Filipino people will continue to pray for him.
“We promise to pray for you. Your Holiness, you are blessed. Jesus prays for you. We your beloved Filipinos unite ourselves with Jesus in praying for you to God the Father,” he said.
“Before you go, Holy Father, send us to spread the light of Jesus. Wherever the light of Jesus shines, you and the Filipino people will always be united. Let the light of Christ shine!”
For his part, Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said the people are no longer afraid of sunset because the Pope has brought sunshine to the people.
“The sun is now setting on Manila Bay. The romantic poets among us call the Manila Bay sunset view as the most beautiful sunset in the world. The setting sun ends the day. The sunset ushers in the twilight. Some of us are afraid of the sunset as we are afraid of the dark. But we are not afraid anymore. In the many days and months and years ahead, we will always bask in the sunrise because you have brought us awesome sunshine to last us many lifetimes. Holy Father you are our sunshine!” Villegas said.
“For many days since you came last Thursday, it has been always been sunrise of smiles for us Filipinos. You have brought us joy. You have brought us hope. You brought us warmth. You have brought us Jesus. When you give us the blessings tonight, we promise you we will be your lights; we will be the lights of Jesus for Asia and the world. We will light the world with the mercy and compassion of Jesus. We will light the world with the joy of the Gospel.”