The Charisma of Pope Francis
And the Euphoria of the Filipinos
By Apolinario Villalobos
The electrifying impact of Pope Francis’ historic visit to the Philippines is such that it will never be forgotten, especially, with the attestation of the Vatican’s spokesperson that it is the biggest event among the papal visits to any country. The euphoric feeling of the Filipinos borders on justifiable fanaticism. The warm reception accorded the shepherd of the Catholic Church defied the onslaught of nature when he said the Mass in Tacloban which was punctuated with incessant rain and strong wind, and in Manila which was heavily drenched with the steady bone-drenching downpour.
The bad weather did not melt the devotion of the Filipinos as they waited even for the fleeting moment to have a glance of the pope along the routes of his entourage. Wheelchaired PWDs patiently waited under the shield of thin plastic sheets. Mothers risked the health and safety of their children. And, elderlies did not utter any complaint as they waited for the pope with their wobbling legs.
For once, the rich and the poor trekked side by side, to Luneta for the concluding Mass, under the rain. The selfie addicts heeded the call not to click their camera during the Mass. The six million pilgrims gave resonating replies as one solid flock, to whatever call was made by the moderator of the occasion. For the first time, perhaps, hosts were passed on by pilgrims from the hand of the priests during the Communion. Putting to action the call of the pope for compassion, some pilgrims gave their raincoat to mothers and children.
The concluding Mass became some sort of a commitment ceremony during which Archbishop Tagle, speaking for the Filipinos, made a promise to go with him to the wherever his mission will bring him. And, in response, the pope asked the Filipinos to carry on the light of faith and devotion wherever they may go.
The pope played his role as Christ’s spokesperson during his visit, with a resounding success. He was a picture of humility since the first day of his arrival. And, his request that ceremonies do away with pomposity, was followed to the last letter. No colorful streamers from government officials and politicians that scream greetings dotted his routes. Most, importantly, the Filipinos behaved appropriately.