Wooden barricades and the Pope who breaks barriers
TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines—Rows and rows of wooden barricades greeted me and our videographer, Franz Lopez, when we arrived in Leyte on Tuesday, January 13 – our 5th time here since Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in November 2013.
Organizers said they've installed wooden barricades along an 11-kilometer road, from the Tacloban Airport to the Palo Cathedral, to prevent the crowd from mobbing the Pope when he visits Leyte on Saturday, January 17.
It's ironic that the Philippines installs these barricades to protect the Pope known for breaking barriers. (Watch more in the video below)
I remembered the concern of Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle: He said the government should remember that Francis is visiting the Philippines not only as a head of state, but also as a pastor. “And pastoral life is really about being connected,” Tagle said, as he explained that both Filipinos and Latin Americans value “proximity and touch.”
I understand that the government needs to secure the Pope the best way possible. It's interesting: To describe the Pope's visit, Philippine President Benigno Aquino III used the word the government uses to describe natural or man-made calamities: “hamon,” or challenge. Aquino said, “Do we want the Philippines to be recorded in history as having had a tragedy related to a pope?”
I also know, however, that Francis is a Pope of Encounter.
The “culture of encounter,” in fact, is one of his favorite phrases. This is the Pope who prays for his critics, helps restore ties between countries, and loves getting off his popemobile to kiss babies and bless the sick.
Only this man, the Pope of Encounter, can decide to break through the Philippines' barricades.
Urban legend or not, a story about Francis comes to mind.
The following account, in italics, comes from the blog of Pia Solenni on patheos.com, a popular website on faith:
Recently, when he left his apartment at Domus Marta and went out into the hall, the Pope found a Swiss Guard standing at attention outside his door.
He asked him, “And what are you doing here? Were you awake all night?
“Yes,” the guard answered respectfully.
“One of my colleagues gave me a break.”
“And you’re not tired?”
“It’s my duty Your Holiness, for Your safety.”
The Pope looked at him with kindness. He went back into his apartment and, after a few minutes, returned with a chair in his hand: “At least sit down and rest.”
Shocked, the Swiss Guard replied, “Forgive me, but I can’t! The rules don’t allow it.”
“My captain, Your Holiness.”
“Oh, is that so? Well, I’m the Pope and I am asking you to sit down.”
So, between the rules and the Pope, the Swiss Guard, complete with his halberd, chose the chair. And then the Pope brought him some bread and jam for a snack, saying, “Buon appetito, brother.”
Dear Francis, the Pope of Surprises, can you do something like this in the Philippines? – Rappler.com