Dec 022014

MANILA, Philippines – Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle appealed to politicians on Tuesday not to use the papal visit as an opportunity to advance their political fortunes ahead of the 2016 elections.

In a press briefing, Tagle said politicians and local community leaders may welcome Pope Francis with banners but they should not do it for personal gain.

“I think there is nothing wrong with welcoming the Pope by displaying banners. But I hope the banners will not be used to promote oneself. When the banner says “Welcome, Pope” but it carries a picture of somebody else, that’s different,” Tagle said.

Luis Antonio Tagle

Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

He also urged those who wish to welcome the Pontiff with festive decorations to keep them simple in accordance with the Pope’s request.

“Local communities may welcome the Pope in their own way. We Filipinos are [creative], we do it with bunting and other decorations. But whatever way we choose to welcome him, let’s not spend too much, let’s not make it too costly,” Tagle said.

“We can always show hospitality by showing warmth and simplicity…. We should not use the visit for other motivations, for self-interest,” the prelate added, stressing that Pope Francis was known for his humility and simplicity in manner and lifestyle.

Tagle also reminded the public to ensure that their decorations do not become a mountain of trash by the end of the visit, saying the Pope is also concerned with the environment.

Pope Francis is scheduled to visit the Philippines on January 15 to 19.

He will be celebrating at least three Masses, including one at the Manila Cathedral on Jan. 16, which will be exclusive for priests, bishops and the religious from different dioceses all over the country.

The Most Rev. Mylo Hubert Vergara, chair for the committee on information and media relations, said the Eucharistic celebration at the Manila Cathedral is for the spiritual guidance of the leaders of the church.

“We also look at the Holy Father as a father of the ordained. We look forward to the Pope’s visit because he will also preach to us, guide us,” Vergara said.

Tagle said the Mass at the Manila Cathedral will be similar to an ordinary Mass, but will feature the clergy’s confession in keeping with the papal visit’s theme “Mercy and Compassion.”

Tagle explained that the members of the clergy would approach the crucifix to make a “communal and symbolic” confession of sins in relation to their vows of obedience, poverty, and chastity.

“The bishops, priests and the religious will ask for forgiveness for all the shortcomings and sins not only as individuals and Christians, but as leaders of the Catholic Church,” Tagle said.

“Priests, the religious, and bishops are reminded that we also need to experience mercy and compassion, for just like the rest of humanity, we are weak, we are sinners, we are always in the hands of the merciful God,” he added.

Asked if the clergy will make confessions regarding controversies hounding the Church, including sex abuse, Tagle said the confessions will be “communitarian” and not detailed.

Meanwhile, Msgr. Nestor Cerbo of the Manila Cathedral said the 2,000-seat basilica’s administration is currently rushing restoration efforts for Pope Francis’s visit, including work on its air-conditioning system.

Other activities during the papal visit will be the meeting of families at the SM Mall of Asia Arena, meeting with the youth and leaders of other religions at the University of Santo Tomas, and a concluding Mass at Luneta Park.

The Pope is also spending a day in Tacloban and Palo in Leyte to visit the survivors of Supertyphoon Yolanda.

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