• Major messages to jump-start Pope Francis’ first PH trip


    Pope Francis will deliver Friday (Jan. 16) in Metro Manila three major messages for the country’s faithful, kicking off his maiden visit to the Philippines.

    Vatican Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi said the Pope will deliver the first of such messages in presidential palace Malacanang where he’s scheduled to meet with President Benigno Aquino III.

    “That will be the Pope’s first important public speech in the country,” Lombardi said in Metro Manila during a press conference following His Holiness’ arrival in this megalopolis on Thursday (Jan. 15).

    Fr. Lombardi said Pope Francis will also deliver on Friday the homily during his mass at Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.

    The Pope will make a third speech during his meeting with families later that day, Fr. Lombardi continued.

    Earlier, the Vatican announced such meeting is scheduled at Mall of Asia.

    Fr. Lombardi declined to comment on what the messages will focus on.

    He urged the public to listen to such messages.

    The government’s weather agency is expecting no inclement weather in Metro Manila on Friday despite tropical storm ‘Amang’ (international name ‘Mekkhala’) that is threatening the country.

    “We expect Metro Manila to experience good weather that day,” said forecaster Gener Quitlong from state weather agency Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration.

    He attributed such forecast to expected location of “Amang” on Friday, noting this storm then will still be “too far” to affect Metro Manila.

    The storm’s forecast location on Friday morning is some 615 kilometers east of Northern Samar province’s Catarman municipality, he noted.

    “Only light rains can be expected in Metro Manila on Friday,” he said.

    Metro Manila will likely experience cold weather also, he continued.

    Pope Francis stepped on Philippine soil for the first time late Thursday afternoon, delighting thousands who waited for hours to get a glimpse of His Holiness.

    President Aquino led the group of government officials who welcomed the Pope at Metro Manila’s Villamor Air Base where the Pontiff’s plane landed.

    The Pope is visiting the Philippines to further spread his message of mercy and compassion.

    His Holiness flew to Metro Manila from Sri Lanka where he canonized Joseph Vaz, that country’s first saint.

    Church bells tolled as Pope Francis’ plane taxied on the Villamor runway.

    Cheers grew louder after people at Villamor Air Base saw him peep through a window of the plane, emerge from the aircraft and attend the welcome ceremony government prepared for him.

    The Pontiff no longer made an arrival speech as he’s due to deliver three messages the following day, noted Fr. Lombardi.

    After the welcome ceremony, Pope Francis boarded the partially open pope mobile which took him through several Metro Manila streets on the way to the Papal Nunciature, his official residence throughout the visit.

    For most of the trip from Villamor to the Papal Nunciature, Pope Francis stood inside the pope mobile and waved to the crowd of thousands who lined the streets to see and cheer for him.

    Pope Francis will spend Saturday (Jan. 17) in Leyte province to celebrate mass, have lunch with survivors of typhoon ‘Yolanda’ (international name ‘Haiyan’) and bless a facility named in his honor, the Vatican announced earlier.

    Leyte is among areas ‘Yolanda’ ravaged in November 2013.

    While in Leyte, the Vatican said the Pope will also meet with priests, consecrated persons, seminarians and other ‘Yolanda’ survivors before returning to Metro Manila on the same day.

    Prior to his trip back to Rome on Monday (Jan. 19), the Vatican said Pope Francis will spend Sunday (Jan. 18) in Metro Manila at University of Sto. Tomas to meet with religious leaders and the youth as well as at Rizal Park to celebrate mass.

    Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) expects that mass to draw a record-breaking six million to seven million people.

    CBCP said such expected attendance is more than the fivemillion-strong crowd that flocked to Rizal Park in 1995 for then-Pope St. John Paul II’s mass there. PNA


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