Rain can’t dampen pope’s sunshine, says Villegas

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DRY RUN  Government security personnel line Taft Ave. and surround the Popemobile to be used by Pope Francis during the dry run of the pontiff’s convoy from Villamor Airbase in Pasay City to the Apostolic Nunciature in Manila where the pontiff will stay. PHOTO BY RUY MARTINEZ

DRY RUN
Government security personnel line Taft Ave. and surround the Popemobile to be used by Pope Francis during the dry run of the pontiff’s convoy from Villamor Airbase in Pasay City to the Apostolic Nunciature in Manila where the pontiff will stay. PHOTO BY RUY MARTINEZ

“NO bad weather will dampen the sunshine that the Holy Father will bring to the Philippines.”

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So declared Archbishop Socrates Villegas, head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), after learning that an impending low-pressure area (LPA) is expected to hit the Visayas and Mindanao during the visit of Pope Francis to the country.

“I think Pope Francis has enough sunshine. I don’t think any rain can dampen the sunshine of Pope Francis and the sunshine of the Filipinos,” he said on Monday.

Villegas added that nobody but God can control the rain, but it can be stopped through prayers.

“There is no human being who could control that [bad weather]. It is only God who can control it, so we resort to prayers,” he said.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration earlier said an approaching LPA could intensify into a cyclone and affect the Visayas and Mindanao during the papal visit.

In case the LPA intensifies into a cyclone and enter the Philippine Area of Responsibility, the state weather agency said it would be named Amang.

On Thursday, Pope Francis will arrive in the Philippines for a five-day visit.

The pontiff is set to break bread with victims of natural disasters in Tacloban City, Leyte, on Saturday.

Amid security threats to Francis, the CBCP said the best way to safeguard the security of the Holy Father is to take care of one another.

According to Villegas, the Philippine National Police (PNP), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Presidential Security Group (PSG) cannot adequately protect millions of Filipinos who will come to see the pope.

“I don’t think the PNP, AFP and PSG can adequately protect all of us . . . the best security plan for Pope Francis will be five million Filipinos in Luneta [Rizal Park in Manila)]taking care of each other,” he said.

The prelate was referring to people who will attend the Mass that Pope Francis will officiate on January 18 at Rizal Park.

“The papal visit should be the most loving event in Metro Manila and Tacloban,” Villegas said.

The CBCP head added that the Catholic Church is satisfied with security preparations laid down by the government for the papal visit.

“They [the government]are doing everything that is humanly possible . . . and I am satisfied [with it],” he said.

Based on reports, a threat of terrorist attacks may occur during the papal visit.

In September 2014, the reports came out that the Islamic State (IS) may target Pope Francis for assassination after he spoke against ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria), condemning their attacks on non-Muslims.

The PNP said it will deploy 25,000 personnel during the five-day visit of Pope Francis, while the AFP will mobilize 20,000 soldiers and reservists.

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