الإثنين , يونيو 15 2020

Pope Francis heads for Philippines



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Peter Maude: The Philippines hosts the third largest Catholic population

Pope Francis is on his way to the Philippines for a five-day visit to the nation with 80 million Roman Catholics.

He is the fourth pope to travel to the Philippines, where the highlight of his visit will be a huge open air Mass in the capital, Manila, on Sunday.

Other engagements include a visit to Tacloban to meet survivors of a devastating typhoon in November 2013.

Security will be tight after unsuccessful attempts to kill two of his predecessors.

Tens of thousands of soldiers and police have been deployed to protect the leader of the Catholic Church.

Pope Francis is travelling to the Philippines from Sri Lanka, where he called for unity in the conflict-hit nation and canonised its first saint.

Filipino children gesture beside a picture of Pope Francis in Manila, Philippines, 14 January 2015Most of the Philippine population is Roman Catholic

Young boys dressed as Swiss Guards rehearse at the steps of the Manila Cathedral ahead of the papal visit to the area on 14 January 2015 in Manila, PhilippinesPreparations have been taking place for days across the nation

Filipino policemen walk during a downpour at an open field of the Luneta park in Manila, Philippines, Philippines, 14 January 2015Major security preparations have been put in place to safeguard Pope Francis

The pontiff arrives in Manila on Thursday afternoon. Eighty percent of the nation’s 100 million people are Catholic.

On Friday he meets President Benigno Aquino and celebrates Mass in Manila Cathedral.

On Saturday he heads to Tacloban, where Typhoon Haiyan killed more than 6,000 people in 2013. He will celebrate Mass and also have lunch with survivors of the deadly storm, from which the area is still rebuilding.

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Archbishop of Manila, said he expected the Pope to deliver, either in Tacloban or elsewhere during his tour, a message on climate change – to which some experts have partly attributed the powerful storm.

Asked whether the Pope would address issues such as inequality, reproductive rights and divorce, he said: “His ministry is not to invent new teachings but he is quite sensitive – he wants to bridge the teachings of the Church with the new realities that we are facing.”

A workman clears the road in front of a sign welcoming Pope Francis to Tacloban ahead of his official visit on 14 January 2015 in Tacloban, Leyte, PhilippinesIn Tacloban, the Pope will meet a group of typhoon survivors

 A student activist holds a placard to welcome Pope Francis in Manila, the Philippines, 14 January 2015The Church is dominant in the Philippines, where a major gap exists between rich and poor

Several million people are expected to attend the open-air Mass in the capital’s Rizal Park on Sunday.

Military chief General Gregorio Catapang said up to 40,000 security personnel would be tasked with keeping the Pope safe.

“There needs to be a balance between having the Pope meet up with the flock and meeting all the members of the Church and all others who have been invited to attend the public events, as well as at least keeping him away from danger,” he said.

Mr Aquino, in a televised address on Monday, urged all Filipinos to help protect the Pope.

In 1970, a Bolivian painter stabbed Pope Paul VI as he arrived in Manila, wounding him. In 1995, a week before Pope John Paul II’s visit, police thwarted a plot by Muslim extremists to bomb his motorcade.

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