Orphans, youth to welcome Pope Francis

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At least two orphans and 1, 200 young people from Parañaque City (Metro Manila) are going to welcome Pope Francis when he arrives in the Philippines on January 15 next year at the Villamor Airbase in Pasay City (Metro Manila).

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“When he disembarks from the plane, 1,200 young men and women will greet him with vibrant music and dance. Two children will offer him flowers. The [two]are orphans who have come to know God as our Father through the love and care of selfless men and women,” Parañaque Bishop Jesse Mercado, chairman of the arrival-departure committee said in a statement in a media briefing on Thursday.

Mercado’s statement was read by Fr. Joselito Jopson, executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines’ Episcopal Commission on Social Communications.

According to Jopson, the Diocese of Parañaque will be tapping students from various schools in Parañaque who will join the 1, 200 young people, who will be dancing popular Filipino folk dances.

The two orphans, he said, were chosen by the diocese as they were deprived of parents, and that through the Holy Father, they will be able to feel the love of a father.

Jopson, relaying the message of Mercado, said the bishops “plan to brighten the night with the warmth of our love” with “simplicity.”

He said the pope will be welcomed by President Benigno Aquino 3rd, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, CBCP President and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas and Church and state contingents.

Mercado said he hopes that the people will forge Francis’ message of mercy and compassion.

“We are confident that, after the pope’s plane leaves on January 19, after the red carpet has been rolled up, after the last bulb has been switched off, we shall sleep soundly with the hope that Filipinos can forge a nation of mercy and compassion through a life in integrity: personal integrity, integrity in the family, integrity in work and in politics, integrity in communities and faith, promoting the integrity of creation.”

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