[#AwaNgDiyosPH] Francis is here –hoping to ‘renew’ faithful, Church



MANILA (The Filipino Connection and Philstar.com)—Pope Francis had arrived in the Philippines in a windy fashion, and expect the Vicar of Christ to blow a wind of renewal unto the Filipino Catholic Church, says a theologian.

His Holiness Pope Francis' smile radiates in an early evening motorcade upon his arrival in Manila to begin his five-day apostolic visit to Asia's biggest Christian nation. (photo by Philstar.com / Arnel Joseph Bolando)

His Holiness Pope Francis’ smile radiates in an early evening motorcade upon his arrival in Manila to begin his five-day apostolic visit to Asia’s biggest Christian nation. (photo by Philstar.com / Arnel Joseph Bolando)

Especially when there’s much discrimination between and among people, breezes of the message of embracing one another —Christian or not, whoever one is— are all the more relevant, says the rector of a leading Catholic shrine in Metro Manila.

Francis “wants a real renewal of the Church,” said Fr. Victorino Cueto, C.Ss.R. of the National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help (Ina ng Laging Saklolo), hours before a wave of Filipinos blew their warmest greetings to Francis during a motorcade from Villamor Airbase to the Apostolic Nunciature in Manila.

What Francis is asking the faithful, like the millions of Christians in the world’s third-largest Christian nation, is “to get deeply into who we are as a Church.”

The tenor of Pope Francis alone in his statements and written pieces in the last 22 months, no matter the confusion of interpretations from different sectors of the Church, is “very clear,” says Cueto.

“He would really want to challenge us towards renewal.”

That aspiration of the Church’s renewal from the Pope had sown initial confusion during an October 2014 Extraordinary Synod of Bishops in Rome that talked about the pastoral challenges of the family. What were discussed there include “modern-day” issues such as Catholic reception and administering of the sacraments to homosexuals, divorced and re-married Catholics and same-sex couples, as well as being with the poor and with non-Christians, among other issues.

But while Catholics either got confused or uncertain on how to read those developments from the October 2014 Extraordinary Synod that are not yet final, as theologians like Cueto would say, Filipinos set that aside when the Pope arrived and his pope mobile blitzed past waving faithful in stretches of Paranaque, Pasay and Manila cities.

Even Vatican spokesperson Fr. Federico Lombardi was all but impressed, like his boss. “He said the Holy Spirit will work to touch the heart of (Filipinos),” Lombardi said after Francis had arrived safely at the Apostolic Nunciature.

The Pope, last November 2013, released his first encyclical that set the tone to how his papacy will move forward: Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel). And two decades after a pope last visited the Philippines, Filipino papal joy was relived.

No wonder, Cueto said, Francis juxtaposed the words “Joy” and “Gospel.” “It is being joyfully with the Lord.”

As Francis had just begun his five-day, four-night apostolic visit to the world’s third biggest Christian nation, there’s energy from a Pontiff whose garment had been breezed by the moving pope mobile.

Yes he was tired, Lombardi said, but the Pope feels “he has new energy.” (In Sri Lanka, a 28-km. stretch of a motorcade on humid weather tuckered out the Pontiff. He had to cancel a meeting with Sri Lankan Catholic bishops.)

The next few days will see a nation entrapped by the arms of the Vicar of Christ. That alone is a message, Cueto thinks, that Pope Francis wants an “all-embracing Church” —not just a Church of rules and things to do.

“He (Francis) is asking us to be in a deep relationship with Jesus Christ —and that brings so much more than just a list of rules,” said Cueto, in reference to what some Catholics think of the Church.

Francis’ message is also about being a hospitable Church, Cueto thinks. “Hospitality means ‘Come, whoever, whatever you are. Come and let us journey together.”—The Filipino Connection and Philstar.com.




The Filipino Connection covers the visit of Pope Francis in partnership with Philstar.com.



This story can be published / broadcast / posted online provided The Filipino Connection / Philstar.com and the article’s author/s are properly acknowledged. Editorial mistakes are the publisher’s. Email: thefilipino.connection@gmail.com.