POSTSCRIPT / January 15, 2015 / Thursday


Opinion Columnist

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Storm to greet Pope in Leyte? No problem!

OKAY LANG: Weathermen said early yesterday that storm “Amang” is likely to blow through the Visayas over the weekend when Pope Francis visits the area. No problem.

Our hardy Papa Francis can take rain and wind in stride without having to call in his angels to block the weather disturbance that was reported yesterday packing 55-kph winds as it moved for a rendezvous, as it were, with Christ’s vicar.

The least of the Pontiff’s worries is wet weather. Like Christ standing on a fishing boat tossing at sea, Pope Francis’ characteristic calmness will assure everybody around him not to worry.

Precisely, he is going to Tacloban and Palo to be with the victims of the typhoons and earthquake that had hit that part of the Visayas.

His possibly being drenched with his flock will deliver even more clearly his message of oneness with us Filipinos, of his admonition for “Mercy and Compassion” for all.

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BE OURSELVES: We may witness a similar scenario at the Luneta on Sunday when rain probably would fall while the Pope celebrates Mass. At the Vatican where thousands of pilgrims sometimes huddle in a drizzle, Pope Francis comes out at St. Peter’s Square exposed to wet weather.

The networks might have been just showing days-old film clips, but we still saw on TV yesterday workers hammering, painting, rearranging barricades, etc., in the classic Filipino last-minute preparation for the visit of a SITU (Somebody Important To Us).

Will someone please tell the workers, and the government, to rest na and stop sweeping the dirt under the rug. The Shepherd is not asking for anything special, preferring to see his Filipino flock as they are where they are.

Before his election to the papacy, then Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio was immersed in the poorer and afflicted sections of his archdiocese of Buenos Aires. His humility and concern for the poor are reflected in his adopting the name of St. Francis, a beggar in 13th Century Italy.

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BLESS P-NOY!: We are exceedingly happy to hear that President Noynoy Aquino will drop everything to be among the millions of his countrymen who will participate in the concluding Mass to be officiated by Pope Francis at the Luneta on Sunday.

If there is one thing that the Pope’s mission of “Mercy and Compassion” should achieve, it is the washing away of any petty misunderstanding between the President and the local Catholic bishops.

Another heartwarming development is the planned granting of clemency or the release of a large number of deserving old and sickly prisoners timed with the Pope’s pastoral visit.

Mercy and compassion – most especially for the poor in body and spirit – could lift this badly wounded nation, calm the body politic and lead to national healing.

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TOTAL CARE: This might be a good time to reiterate the universal point that in addressing human difficulties we should not – because we cannot — split the person into his body and spirit. For a total cure, we have to address the total person.

As the late Fr. John P. Delaney used to tell us at the UP Chapel in Diliman, religion is not something between the priest and the sacristan or the manangs of the church. We do not leave our religion at the church door when we go home after the Mass.

Father John, a Jesuit like Pope Francis, kept repeating that morality or ethics should permeate all aspects of human life, including peer and family relations, occupation, business and public office.

But as discussion of such delicate issues as population control and reproductive health as embodied in a new law could be divisive, we could minimize irritants by falling back on moral law and the Constitution.

We hope Pope Francis’ visit can help smooth out the jagged edges and open the minds of all sectors in the discussion of sensitive issues. May the visit improve relations between Malacañang and the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines.

May the visit also shake up the CBCP and wake it up to its mission of alleviating the condition of the poor and the dispossessed, and to make Church teachings more relevant to the day-to-day lives of the laity.

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FOLLOW FRANCIS: This journalist has chosen to stay away from the unwieldy welcoming crowd. Unable to see Papa Francis except from a distance on TV, I envy members of media who are able to cover close-in this unusual People’s Pope.

I am convinced that Francis I was placed in our midst and at the helm of the Church at this time for a special reason. As promised, Christ continues to watch over the Mother Church that He founded upon the rock that was Peter and against whom the gates of Hell shall not prevail.

This is not to say that, having been blessed with an outgoing reformist Pope, the bishops could now shutter the windows to contrary sun beams, or that the Church burrow deeper into itself to escape the extremism exploding around us.

On the contrary, the Church in the Philippines for one, with due respect to the bishops, should wake up and go out into the world to permeate all aspects of human life.

But first, our prelates should follow the path of St. Francis of Assisi — as Archbishop Jorge Bergoglio of Buenos Aires did.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of January 15, 2015)

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