MANILA Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle on Sunday revealed that Pope Francis had met with the father of Kristel Padasas, a 27-year-old volunteer killed in Tacloban City while the pontiff was saying Mass at the city airport last Saturday.
The meeting was held at the Apostolic Nunciature on Taft Avenue in Manila shortly after another Mass, this time at Luneta (Rizal Park in Manila), that the Pope celebrated there on Sunday.
Mr. Pasadas was accompanied by a brother of his wife, who is working in Hong Kong. There was an attempt to talk to her by telephone but it did not materialize.
Tagle said Francis was awed by the faith of Kristel’s father despite Mr. Padasas telling the Pope during the meeting that he had asked God why his only child Kristel was taken away from him.
“Kristel’s father said he felt devastated when the news reached him. He asked God, Kristel is his only child, ‘Why has she been taken from me,’” the Manila archbishop narrated.
But what struck the Pope, according to Tagle, was Kristel’s father saying he has accepted the death of his daughter.
“I even rejoiced because she died serving the faithful, a meaningful death,” he quoted Mr. Pasadas as telling the pontiff who was listening intently.
Kristel’s father said he had decided to stay home for the duration of the Pope’s visit but that “her death practically arranged this meeting [at the nunciature].”
And the Pope said, according to Tagle, “What faith, what faith.”
The Manila archbishop said the Pontiff actually had no answer to Kristel’s father, only that he was awed by the faith of Mr.Padasas.
Pope Francis, according to Tagle, was informed of Kristel’s untimely death on his way back to Manila after gracing scheduled papal activities in Tacloban City, capital of Leyte province.
“The Pope asked us details about Kristel life, where her mother and her father are. He [also]asked that they should reach out to them. He wanted to talk to them. He [further]asked what else they could do to help,” he said.
Fr. Federico Lombardi, the current director of the Holy See Press Office, said in a news briefing early on Sunday that Pope Francis had been informed about the death of Kristel, a volunteer from Samar, after the Mass at the Tacloban airport.
At the University of Santo Tomas in Manila during a Sunday morning encounter with the country’s youth, the Pope, saying he was saddened by the death of Kristel, urged the crowd to offer a moment of silent prayer to her.
WITH BERNICE CAMILLE V. BAUZON