Pope's envoy holds special mass in Leyte
LEYTE, Philippines – They survived one of the world's strongest typhoons. And on Tuesday night, December 24, they braved the Christmas eve rain to go to the roofless Cathedral of Our Lord's Transfiguration in Palo and listen to the special mass led by the ambassador of Pope Francis, Archbishop Giuseppe Pinto.
"The rain drifting from the Church's roof is a blessing," Pinto told the parishioners who had to open their umbrellas inside the church that lost parts of its roof to the strong winds of Yolanda. The floor is slippery and a green tent stood in front to cover the altar.
"Christmas is a time for healing, loving, sharing," Pinto said in his message. Pope Francis sent Pinto to Leyte to monitor relief efforts in Eastern Visayas. He also inspected the damage on churches here.
Pinto's visit is the first made by a representative of the Pope to the 75-year-old church. Pinto said he's happy that the Pope sent him here.
Nearly 8,000 are either dead or missing after Yolanda. At least 1.14 million houses were also damaged. About 100,000 persons or 20,000 families remain in evacuation centers, according to the December 24 report of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).
Pinto will go to Tacloban City on Wednesday, December 25, to celebrate Christmas Mass at the Sto Niño Church.
Pope Francis has repeatedly prayed for Yolanda survivors in the Philippines.
In November, the Pope hugged Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle in a gesture of solidarity after Yolanda. (READ: Pope Francis hugs Tagle; prays for storm-hit PH.)
In a Mass in Palo that month, Tagle recounted the experience, and said he knew the Pope "was not embracing an individual person."
"Niyayakap niya ang lahat ng Pilipino, buhay at yumao," Tagle said. (He was embracing every Filipino, living or dead.) – Rappler.com