NAGA CITY — Bicol Region’s Catholic prelates have thanked Pope Francis for offering prayers for the Philippines and its people ravaged by devastatingly strong typhoons.
Daet, Camarines Norte Bishop Rex Andrew Alarcon said the Pope’s message brings hope and assurance to the people that God is with them during these trying times.
“We are very glad to receive Pope Francis’ expression of closeness and solidarity. It brings hope and assurance of God’s closeness to us, especially to our brothers and sisters who suffer much from the wrath of the recent typhoons,” he said over Radio Veritas.
Alarcon, who chairs the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines-Episcopal Commission on Youth (CBCP-ECY), said the typhoon victims need spiritual and moral support aside from material assistance and support.
“In addition to our material needs, we need spiritual and moral support to lift our spirits. More than our eyes can see, the moral-spiritual support and bond with the Holy Father and many others, as well as the material support, are witnesses to our being brothers and sisters, sharing a common humanity,” the Daet prelate said.
Alarcon said Pope Francis’ expression of oneness with the sufferings of the Filipinos practices the Fratelli Tutti or being a brother to all by encouraging those who are feeling weak to stand up and start anew.
He said the Pontiff’s presence commands importance and he did so when he expressed his compassion, mercy, and love to victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda in 2013.
“What we feel is that the Holy Father is with us, giving us strength to carry the cross and rise up again. We felt his closeness and solidarity. Once again, we feel we are not alone. The presence and assurance of a father is very important for the family, especially the young, the children, and the most vulnerable,” he stressed.
Legazpi Bishop Joel Baylon, for his part, expressed hope the Pope’s message inspire Filipinos help each other and conquer their fears and adversities.
“May his oneness and sincere concern inspire in us the same spirit of solidarity to work together with renewed hope in our efforts to rebuild and rehabilitate our communities. God bless Pope Francis!” he said.
Baylon also thanked the Pope for praying for and remembering the country. “We are deeply grateful and appreciative of the Holy Father’s expression of solidarity and prayers for our people in the midst of this difficult time,” he added.
Pope Francis last Sunday offered prayers especially for the Philippines and Filipinos after Typhoon Ulysses hit them just a week after Super Typhoon Rolly battered them.
The Pope expressed sympathy to, and concern for the thousands of Filipinos affected by ruinous weather disturbances that brought flooding in many parts of the country.
A week before Ulysses struck, Super Typhoon Rolly devastated the Bicol Region, particularly Catanduanes, Camarines Sur and Albay.