He didn’t visit

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Saturday, March 2, 2013


MOST Filipino adults have known three Popes. Two of them visited the Philippines, the last one didn’t.

Pope Paul VI visited the country in 1970, and Pope John Paul II in 1981 and 1995. Resigned Pope Benedict XVI didn’t.

Pope Benedict XVI wanted to, but was unable probably due to health issues and advancing age. He was expected but he didn’t show up in 2011 for the celebration of the 400th anniversary of the University of Santo Tomas as Asia's oldest university. The school has been the venue of papal visits. He sent instead a video message that was aired during the celebration attended by thousands.

Most Filipino adults saw throughout their growing years the photos of the three Popes in churches, calendars, books and notebooks.

Pope Paul VI reigned as head of the Roman Catholic Church from June 21, 1963 until his death on Aug. 6, 1978. He succeeded Pope John XXIII who had convened the Second Vatican Council. Pope Paul VI visited the Philippines at the time of Ferdinand Marcos.

Pope John Paul II came in 1981 and 1995. He had visited not only Metro Manila but also Cebu and Baguio. It was in his 1981 visit when he beatified Lorenzo Ruiz who later became the first Filipino saint. He was the last Pope to visit the Philippines, as the next one after his death, Pope Benedict XVI, didn’t stay long enough at the Vatican to visit.

Pope Benedict XVI's sudden resignation last month removed any possibility of such a visit. A papal trip is always significant because the Philippines is home to the largest population of Catholics in Asia. Filipino Catholics were among those who expressed surprise over his decision to give up being a Pope. While theories cropped up on the real reasons behind his resignation, the common sentiment was of being thankful for his role as Pope in the past eight years.

Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, in a letter to the Pope, said, “Holy Father, thank you very much for shepherding the Church with wisdom and great zeal, making us experience the presence of God in our midst even during these troubled times. We thank Your Holiness, in particular, for canonizing Saint Pedro Calungsod as our model and intercessor.” Palma is also Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines president.

In Pope Benedict XVI's retirement, maybe he can find the time to visit the Philippines.

***

The Sun.Star website at www.sunstar.com.ph uploaded on the night of Pope Benedict XVI's resignation last Feb. 11 a poll asking people for their thoughts.

One reader said there is no retirement from God’s work, while another said the Pope made the right decision and he deserved to be given due respect. There were references to the sexual abuse cases that were not acted on by the Church leadership during his term but the majority sentiment was of gratefulness for all that he did.

His leaving could also be a way of reinvigorating the Church and giving it the chance to grow with the times and with the faithful.

(ninicab@sunstar.com.ph)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 03, 2013.

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