Catholic World News

Braving a tropical storm, Pope visits typhoon survivors in Philippines

January 17, 2015

Pope Francis braved a storm on January 17 to travel to the island of Leyte for an emotional meeting with survivors of typhoon Yolanda. But the Pontiff was forced to cut short his visit as another approached.

The Pope flew from Manila to Tacloban, on Leyte, on Saturday morning, during the 2nd day of his visit to the Philippines. Vatican sources reported that the Pope had been advised to call off the trip, in light of the inclement weather, but he flatly refused, saying that the visit to survivors of the November 2013 storm was a primary purpose of his trip.

Instead the Pope flew to Tacloban an hour earlier than scheduled, and organizers cut short every event of the day so that the Pontiff’s return flight could leave just before the typhoon struck. The timing was tight; another plane, carrying political leaders, was forced off the runway on Leyte just an hour after the Pope’s departure.

Meeting with the survivors of Yolanda, a storm that had caused more than 10,000 deaths, the Pope said that he had formed the commitment to visit the region as soon as he heard about the disaster. He urged the bereaved people to rely on Christ, saying that ‘we have a Lord Who is able to weep with us, Who can be at our side through life’s most difficult moments.”

After celebrating Mass in a driving rain—wearing a poncho over his vestments—the Pope rushed through a few other scheduled stops, then apologetically explained that he had to catch his flight immediately. Returning to Manila four hours ahead of his original schedule, he spent the unexpected free time resting.

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