POPE Francis wants Filipinos to focus on Jesus Christ and not on him when he visits the Philippines next week.
The pontiff’s message was revealed by Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle on Saturday, four days before the arrival of the Holy Father.
Tagle said the Pope told him that Filipinos should not consider him as a celebrity or a star when he sets foot on Philippine soil and that the focus of his pastoral visit should be Jesus.
“In a private meeting with him [Pope Francis] before I left Rome, he said, I know that the preparations are in full swing for my visit. I do not want to be the focus of the pastoral visit—Jesus should be the focus,” the cardinal said.
Tagle went to Rome in November last year to submit some reports on the preparations that the Philippines has undertaken for the papal visit.
He also said the Pope has noticed that some people seemed “to create their own Pope Francis.”
“This is the real Francis. The real Francis. I’m a regular human being, but they are making me a celebrity, a star. That’s not me. Don’t focus on me. Focus on Jesus,” Tagle quoted the Pope as saying.
The Holy Father will arrive in the Philippines on Thursday, January 15.
At the same time, Tagle asked the public to listen to the gospel and not aim to have a “selfie” with the Pope during his four-day stay in the country.
“The Pope will come . . . we [should]listen to the message coming from the gospel that he will proclaim. If we don’t listen, nothing will change,” the cardinal said.
“People are asking me: Would there be a chance for us to come closer to the Pope to have a selfie with him? Does it make a significance? Will we become sovereign, just, truthful and loving just because you have a selfie with him? No, pag napuno yan buburahin mo din naman yun e. Di ba, parang ginawa mong souvenir [You will delete that photo, you will only make it a souvenir],” he noted.
“I think the Holy Father is clear, but I think also, because I worked with him before he became pope, I think he is also reminding himself: remain grounded, you know who you are, live in the truth,” he explained.
Tagle also said that the best way to secure the Pope during his visit “is to become paranoid.”
The cardinal and other Church officials met with police, military and other officials involved in the preparation of security measures for the pontiff on Thursday.
“Two days ago, we had a meeting at Malacañang, [on]overview and final touches of security measures. I heard from the one in charge of the papal security that one of the [security]rules [is that]if you are the person in charge of the security, you must be paranoid. That’s the best way to ensure his security. And I saw how paranoid they are. They see danger everywhere,” Tagle said.
President Benigno Aquino 3rd admitted on Friday that securing Pope will be a nightmare.
On January 17, Francis will break bread with victims of super typhoon Yolanda in Tacloban.
In another development, Tagle denied reports that the “encyclical” project of the Pope on the environment will be held in Tacloban, noting that the city is vulnerable to calamities.
An encyclical is a letter of a Pope sent to all the churches of a particular area.
Tagle said the “document was not yet ready because a lot of serious studies are needed” for the project.
“The project of the encyclical of the Pope on the environment is true. I have heard him talking with some people in the Vatican who are helping him in the drafting of the document. When he was asked in one meeting by a journalist, he said the document was not yet ready because a lot of serious studies is needed. I heard him say “we don’t want a papal encyclical accused of spreading false data that are not verified,” he said.
“I don’t know whether that document is already prepared. If it happens in Tacloban, wow!” he added.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) also on Saturday advised the public to be alert against who may try to disrupt the visit of Pope Francis who is due to arrive on January 15.
The PNP’s Police Community Relations Group (PCRG) said government security forces are aiming for a “zero untoward incident” during the Pope’s four-day visit.
“Be alert at all times on possible attacks of lawless elements which may disrupt the peaceful celebration of the event,” the PCRG tweeted.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) was placed on red alert status on Saturday as part of its security preparations for Pope’s visit.
“This is to ensure that no enemies of the can take advantage of the country’s preparations and excitement for the papal visit,” AFP chief Gregorio Pio P. Catapang Jr. said.
Starting on Monday, the PNP will also be on full alert to allow the police organization to go full blast in its security preparations for papal visit.
Under a full alert status, all police personnel are required to be in their stations at any given time and ready to respond to any eventuality that may arise.
The PNP will deploy 25,000 of its personnel to secure the Pope. The Armed Forces of the Philippines will also mobilize at least 7,000 soldiers and 5,000 reservists to help secure the pontiff.