Date
24 September 2017
Hundreds of thousands of people line the streets to greet Pope Francis on his arrival in the Philippines Thursday night. Photo: AFP
Hundreds of thousands of people line the streets to greet Pope Francis on his arrival in the Philippines Thursday night. Photo: AFP

Poor a priority of Philippine visit, says pope

Filipinos gave a rousing welcome to Pope Francis who began his five-day visit to the nation’s 80 million Catholics on Thursday night.

Hundreds of thousands of cheering people waited several hours in steaming heat for a glimpse of his motorcade, BBC News reported.

The pontiff said he wants to send a message to the poor who face “social, spiritual and existential” injustices.

“The central nut of the message will be the poor, the poor who want to go forward, the poor who suffered from Typhoon Haiyan and are continuing to suffer the consequences,” he said on his way to the Philippines from Sri Lanka.

More than 7,300 people were killed or left missing when Typhoon Haiyan devastated villages in the central part of the country in November 2013.

He will visit Leyte province, hardest hit by the calamity, to try to console the survivors on Saturday. He will also hold a huge open-air Mass in Manila on Sunday.

The pope said he also wants to give a message to Filipino workers who have left their families for jobs overseas.

The Philippines is one of the world’s largest exporters of labor — more than a 10th of the population has left the country to work overseas — and there are countless reports of their abuse and exploitation at work.

President Benigno Aquino III has been implementing programs to eradicate poverty, although the Roman Catholic Church assailed him for pushing a 2012 reproductive health law that promotes artificial birth control, the report said.

Security will be tight after failed attempts to kill two previous popes. A three-day public holiday has been declared in Manila to ease traffic.

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FL/CG

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