Lombardi: Tacloban most intense moment of Pope’s journey
(Vatican Radio) Speaking after today’s intense experience on the Island of Leyte, during which bad weather forced organizers to cut short the Pope’s schedule, Father Federico Lombardi SJ expressed his belief that the Pope’s encounter with survivors of the 2013 Typhoon represents one of the highlights of his Asian journey.
Speaking to Vatican Radio’s Sean Patrick Lovett, the Director of the Vatican Press Office pointed to Pope Francis’ off-the-cuff homily in which he said “So many of you have lost everything. I do not know what to tell you. But surely he knows what to tell you! So many of you have lost members of your family. I can only be silent; I accompany you silently, with my heart…” as the central moment of this part of his visit. “It was the moment during which we really understood his desire to be with these people in this situation” he said.
Listen to the interview:
Lombardi points out that from the very beginning, the Pope had said that it was when “he saw the images of the typhoon and the disaster that he decided to come here”.
“This is actually the end of a long journey that did not begin in Manila, but in Rome just over a year ago on the day of the typhoon” he said.
And remarking on the fact that for the Pope being here on a day of strong wind and rain, Lombardi says “it was a new experience” because this kind of weather does not happen in his native Argentina, or in Rome for that matter, but here – he said – the people are normally subject to a particularly critical situation.
“To be here, not on a sunny day, but on a day of rain and wind, this was the concrete situation in which the experience of being with the people was totally credible” he said.
Lombardi also speaks of how moved the Pope is as he experiences the affection of the Filipino people: “You cannot be indifferent to see on the streets hundreds of thousands of people waiting to see you for hours, even if you have not the time to meet them personally, they are happy to see you and feel your presence and encouragement”.
He says the Pope really feels this particular attitude Filipinos have toward s the Pope and towards the religious experience.
And as we know, Lombardi said, “he has the poor always at the center of his attention and if he has the occasion to be with them concretely in concrete situations such as this, then the experience is even stronger and more profound”.
“I think today was the most profound and intense moment of this journey” he said.