• Pope to visit ‘Yolanda’ victims, did not say when


    Pope Francis will visit areas ravaged by Super Typhoon Yolanda to extend consolation and demonstrate spiritual closeness to survivors, an official of the Vatican announced at a Holy Mass at the damaged La Libertad Mission Church in Palo, Leyte on Tuesday.

    “You go now because I might be going there also,” Cardinal Robert Sarah, president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, quoted Pope Francis as saying.

    However, Cardinal Sarah did not disclose when the Pope will visit Leyte.

    “I would not tell you the date, but the Holy Father has been telling me ‘I might be also going there,” he said.

    On January 28, the Cardinal visited some areas in Eastern Visayas that were hard-hit by the super typhoon to distribute relief goods to the survivors and bring the message of the Pope.

    He visited the Sisters of Mercy Hospital, a health facility dedicated to the poor, in Tacloban City and the Sacred Heart Seminary in Palo.

    The cardinal also led the groundbreaking ceremony for the proposed orphanage, clinic and home for the elderly at the compound of the Archbishop’s Residence, also in Palo.

    The diocese’s Archbishop John Du was elated upon hearing the news and said the faithful were praying that the Pope’s visit would push through.

    “Of course, we are very happy. People were clapping,” Du said.

    Immediately after the onslaught of the typhoon, Pope Francis donated an initial $150,000 in emergency aid through the Cor Unum.

    Last Christmas, the Pope sent his ambassador to the Philippines, Archbishop Giuseppe Pinto, to Leyte to be one with the Yolanda survivors.

    Ciro Benedettini, a Vatican spokesman, recently announced that the pontiff was considering a possible trip to Asia, but there are still no firm arrangements. The only confirmed papal trip is a three-day visit to the Middle East in May, where he will travel to Amman, Bethlehem and Jerusalem.

    “A trip to Asia is under consideration but nothing is yet fixed or certain,” Benedettini said.


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