Pope Francis begins five-day visit to Philippines today
A visit to the Philippines is planned for Pope Francis, and it is causing quite the stir as thousands prepare for what is looking to be the biggest papal visit in a generation.
The five day trip is set to begin today, starting as Pope Francis lands at an air base and attends several ceremonies. While large crowds of excited individuals are expected to form, there are some who are not necessarily welcoming his visit.
A Healing Hand
One of the reasons that Pope Francis’ visit to the Philippines has caused such a swell of support is that the nation has been devastated on numerous fronts. For example, the city of Tacloban has been severely damaged by two hurricanes over the last few years. As a result, there are thousands of individuals who have been left without material possessions and are now running low on spiritual faith. The Pope’s visit to the damaged areas of the Philippines has the potential to make those individuals feel more included in the church than they have in recent years, when visits were less frequent.
The goal of the trip, according to priests who will be traveling with the Pope, is to visit as many people as possible to increase Catholic visibility and let everyone know that they are not alone.
— VaticanCommunication (@PCCS_VA) January 9, 2015
Atheist Writer Expresses Doubt
Writer Marguerite de Leon does not view the official visit as a positive experience for the Philippines. As an atheist, it is not even the lack of a shared god that is causing such feelings of bitterness for her; it is the division that religion has imposed upon the nation from her perspective.
She believes that a visit from the pope will only galvanize the religious majority in the nation to steer away from progressive actions which are desperately needed to reform the country. She lists many other complaints in her open letter as well, such as the fact that the government is issuing limited-edition Pope commemorative coins (funded by taxpayers), and precious working and learning time will be lost since it’s been declared a government holiday. She attacked the notion that the papal visit to the Philippines will require many government workers to take days off to simply focus on the visit; an action that is seen as wasteful in such trying times.
A Brighter Future
Pope Francis has been hailed as one of the most progressive individuals to hold the position in recent memory. While he has stuck to the official lines on some topics, he has revealed himself to be deeply concerned with helping people wherever he goes. Even though there are still some problems rooted in the hold that the Catholic religion has on the Philippines government, there is bound to be a positive message spread through this visit.