MANILA — Pope Francis has apologized to Palo Archbishop John Du over his shortened stay in Leyte on January 17 because of Tropical Storm “Amang.”
“I was deeply saddened that the weather warning forced us to anticipate our departure by four hours; this prevented a more relaxed visit with your people and in the Cathedral later that afternoon,” said the Holy Father in a letter dated January 21, which he personally signed.
He added, “I ask for your forgiveness for any impatience on my part at that time.”
Pope Francis had to cut short his visit to Eastern Visayas due to the threat of the storm, which forced the organizers to speed up the pontiff’s itinerary in Tacloban and Palo.
He was originally scheduled to leave the province at 5p.m. but had to fly back to Manila four hours earlier.
At the same time, the Pope expressed gratitude for the hospitality shown by the whole Palo archdiocese.
“Returning to Rome, I wish to convey with these words my profound gratitude for your hospitality in the Archdiocese of Palo. May the Lord repay you abundantly for your goodness,” he said in the letter, which was only made public on February 2 by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).
Pope Francis also admired the faith shown by the people of Leyte, particularly the victims of super typhoon “Yolanda”.
“I thank you too, wholeheartedly, for the witness of faith and endurance, which your people showed me in the midst of their trials. I will never forget this – may the Lord never permit me to – and I will keep them in my prayers,” he added.
The Pope has asked the head of the Palo Archdiocese to always include him in their prayers.
“I ask you, please, to pray for me and to ask those entrusted to your care to do the same,” he said.
Pope Francis was in the country for a five-day Apostolic and State Visit from January 15 to 19.