(Vatican Radio) At the conclusion of Pope Francis’s three day visit to the Philippines, the head of the Holy See press office, Fr Federico Lombardi briefed journalists about the impact of this papal visit to Asia. He also spoke to our correspondent in Manila, Sean-Patrick Lovett, about highlights of the visit and about the expectations of the people who turned out in such huge numbers to take part in the papal events…..
The first aspect that Fr Lombardi highlights is the huge numbers of people who came to see and listen to the Pope. There was, he says, “a great expectation and a great desire to be in his presence” which also indicates a great level of religious feeling among the people of the Philippines.
Secondly, he says, the Pope has announced the Gospel in a way which is very attentive to the sensitivities of the local people, with a strong emphasis on tears and weeping “which is something people here understand well”. But Pope Francis tells them that they must also go beyond emotion to a true conversion and then translate that conversion into action, just as he explained to the young people in Manila they must “feel, think, and do”.
Fr Lombardi also speaks of the scandalous inequality in the Philippines which, in the Pope’s view, is “something that must be approached with decision”. For Pope Francis, he says, the poor are the centre of the Gospel and he desires that the Church may convert to this vision in order to help society to change. The trip, he says, has been an incredible experience of the possibilities for change but also a challenge to the Church and its people…
Asked about the effect that the journey has had on the Pope, Fr Lombardi replies that Pope Francis is a person who is very attentive to dialogue and the need to receive as well as to give. He notes how Bergoglio understood from the moment of his election that he had to come to Asia which had not experienced a major papal visit for two decades. In his trip to three different Asian nations, Fr Lombardi says, the Pope has experienced “the great expectations” of the people and understood the need to focus on evangelisation. While there has been an immense attention of the people to the Pope’s words, Fr Lombardi concludes with the wish that the ruling classes have also taken his message to heart as well….