Papal legate to Filipinos: ‘Rejoice! You are a nation of hope’

CEBU (Updated) -- Pope Francis’ representative to the 51st International Eucharistic Congress told Filipinos attending the Statio Orbis at the South Road Properties (SRP) on Sunday to rejoice for being a nation of hope whose light will shine not only in Asia but to the whole world.

“You made us proud to be Catholics... God will give you a greater future. Your sons and daughters will be blessed a hundred-fold. You will be called a blessed nation,” His Eminence Charles Maung Cardinal Bo said, as he urged the Filipinos to “let the hope in your hearts flow like a radiant river.”

Cardinal Bo is the main celebrant of the culminating mass that is being held at San Pedro Calungsod templete at SRP in Cebu City. Joining him in the mass are cardinals, bishops and priests from at least 72 countries in the world.

In his homily Sunday, the Papal legate said that the Philippines holds great promises to the Catholic world, but he stressed that being a prophet to the nations comes with challenges and opportunities.

He then asked the Filipinos, especially the youth, if they are willing to take up the challenge, to which the people attending the Statio Orbis said “Yes!”

Cardinal Bo said that Christianity is big challenge in today’s world, where churches are becoming empty and vocations dying out. But he said Filipinos can do exciting dawn of new Christianity. He urged them to go to countries that have more pets than children and proclaim Christ, the Hope of Glory, to all nations.

“Go to all corners of the earth, and go back in hope because you have a strong faith,” he said.

The Papal legate highlighted the importance of the family and youth in the church, saying families need to be protected and nurtured, and the youth to be understood.

“The death of the family is the death of humanity... The future of the church depends on the Catholic family,” he said. “You must keep the family intact. You the words ‘May I,’ ‘Thank you,’ and ‘Sorry.’ These are words of mercy. Strengthen your family with mercy and love.” he added.

He then urged the church not to neglect the youth, saying the youth are not only the hope of the future, but the present precious treasures.

“In most churches, the youth are the missing generation... but instead of expecting the youth to return to church, the church must return to the youth,” Cardinal Bo said, stressing: “The church that neglects the youth writes its own death sentence.”

He said if only the leaders of the Philippines will invest in the youth, “you will be the richest and strongest country in the world.”

“The future does not belong to countries that have oil or weapons, but to nation with young people,” Cardinal Bo said.

He then thanked the Philippines for hosting the 51st IEC.

“Nahihiya at natatakot ako na maging kinatawan ng Santo Padre. Apan karon, adunay koy problema. Dili na ako ganahan mubiya sa Sugbo. Nahigugma na ako sa Sugbo. Nahigugma sa inyong pagkama-abi-abihon. Nahigugma sa inyong pagkaon. Nahigugma sa inyong mga pahiyom, labi na gyud sa inyong pagtuo. (Now I have a problem: I don't want to leave Cebu. I have come to love Cebu, your hospitality, your food, your smiles and most of all, your faith.) I love Cebu,” the Papal legate said.

“What a great host you are. It was a great experience,” he added.

The Statio Orbis mass started around 4 p.m. It was held in the 26-hectare open space at SRP where thousands of people also gathered in 2012 during the thanksgiving mass for the canonization of Filipino Saint, San Pedro Calungsod.

The Mass Sunday marked the closing of the 51st IEC, which according to organizers is attended by thousands of people from around the world. The IEC is held every four years, and the Philippines hosted the last IEC -- before this one -- in 1937. (Sunnex)

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