MANILA — Pope Francis concluded Monday (Jan. 19) his five-day visit to the Philippines, leaving behind the challenge for uprightness among leaders nationwide.
“As many voices in your nation have pointed out, it is now, more than ever, necessary that political leaders be outstanding for honesty, integrity and commitment to the common good,” he said in a speech during his Jan. 16 courtesy call at Malacanang.
He raised such challenge, aware uprightness among leaders is essential in moving the country forward.
“In this way, they will help preserve the rich human and natural resources with which God has blessed this country – thus will they be able to marshall the moral resources needed to face the demands of the present and to pass on to coming generations a society of authentic justice, solidarity and peace,” he noted.
Pope Francis set foot on Philippine soil for the first time late Thursday afternoon (Jan. 15), delighting thousands who waited for hours to get a glimpse of His Holiness.
“It (the visit) comes as the Church in this country is preparing to celebrate the fifth centenary of the first proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ on these shores,” he said.
He hopes the anniversary “will point to its continuing fruitfulness and its potential to inspire a society worthy of the goodness, dignity and aspirations of the Filipino people.”
Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) is looking forward to March 16, 2021 – the fifth centenary of Christianity’s arrival in the Philippines.
“We shall therefore embark on a nine-year spiritual journey that will culminate with the great jubilee of 2021,” CBCP said in 2012.
Authorities led well-wishers who bid Pope Francis goodbye at Metro Manila’s Villamor Air Base.
He also landed at Villamor last week after arriving from Sri Lanka where he canonized Joseph Vaz, that country’s first saint.
His Holiness visited the Philippines to further spread his message of mercy and compassion.
“My visit is above all pastoral,” he said at Malacanang.
Despite inclement weather due to storm ‘Amang’ (international name ‘Mekkhala’), thousands of people still turned out to see Pope Francis en route to and at his official engagements.
Aside from the courtesy call at Malacanang, his engagements included the concluding mass on Sunday (Jan. 18) at Metro Manila’s Rizal Park.
Authorities reported that mass alone drew an estimated six million people.
They said such attendance broke the record five million people at the 1995 mass of then-Pope John Paul II there.