Chan Barro says she hopes Pope Francis' visit to the Philippines will bring people closer to God.

WCR PHOTO | LASHA MORNINGSTAR

Chan Barro says she hopes Pope Francis' visit to the Philippines will bring people closer to God.

January 12, 2015
LASHA MORNINGSTAR
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

Catholics from the Philippines are ecstatic over Pope Francis' visit to their homeland Jan. 15 to 19.

"It is a blessing because the vicar of Christ is coming to visit them," said Father Joselito Cantal. The pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Edson, Cantal was born and grew up in the Philippines, and still has family there.

"We know the pope's heart is very close to the poor," Cantal said in an interview.

"The first people he will have to talk to are the people who suffered from Typhoon Yolanda." Known outside the Philippines as Typhoon Haiyan, the storm killed more than 6,300 people in November 2013.

"He has to mingle with those people," Cantal said. "He wants to be part of their pain. He told the bishops there, 'Don't make anything special.' But still Filipinos are preparing something good for him to make him feel welcome and warm.

"Spiritually, he is very important because they see the pope as the living Christ," he said. The pope lives out the teaching of the Bible and defends the faith. "That is what the people are looking for because he is a different pope."

The Filipinos attending noon Mass Jan. 5 at St. Joseph's Basilica agreed with the Edson priest.

"It's a privilege to have the pope visiting in our country," said Andro Gil I. Pedroso. "I think most Filipinos will come to his Mass."

Sixta Calica hopes the pope will visit those whose lives were devastated by Typhoon Yolanda.

WCR PHOTO | LASHA MORNINGSTAR

Sixta Calica hopes the pope will visit those whose lives were devastated by Typhoon Yolanda.

His friend, Henorix Inogaris Santos, said the pontiff's visit is "the best thing that could happen. We know that the Philippines' government is really corrupt. We need spiritual messages, spiritual teaching that comes through the pope.

"The pope coming to the Philippines should help us through the bad things – corrupt people, typhoons, everything that is not good. The pope coming should help us," he said.

"Everyone will welcome him because they want a message from God to help their lives – to live happy like other people."

VISIT THE POOR

Sixta Calica too is "so happy the pope is going to the Philippines, to see the poor people whose lives were destroyed by the typhoon."

Virgie Gongales is also pleased the pope will have a chance to visit the poor people.

Chana Barro takes the spiritual viewpoint, saying she believes the papal visit will "bring the people closer to God."

Another Filipina attending the Mass, Lydia Perya, smiled as she said, "I'm very pleased and proud that my country is going to be visited by the pope representing God because when I see a pope I see Jesus Christ in him.

"He is representing God seeing our situation in the Philippines. Then we feel that God is with the Filipino people in their catastrophe."