ISABELA, Basilan, Nov. 21, 2014—The head of the Prelature of Isabela de Basilan expressed hope that the Holy Father’s upcoming trip to the country will pave the way for peace in Mindanao.
While the southern island is not among the places he is expected to visit from Jan. 15 to 19 next year, Basilan Bishop Martin S. Jumoad believes the pope’s presence will be as much a blessing to Mindanaoans as to the rest of the Filipino people.
“The coming of the Pope to the Philippines will be of a pastoral kind. Even though he will not make it here, the fact that he will be in the country is already a blessing which will strengthen our faith and hope that eventually Mindanao will be peaceful,” the prelate told Church-run Radyo Veritas in an interview.
Jumoad asserts the Argentinian pontiff will be able to inspire unity among Christian and Muslim Filipinos.
In his 2013 apostolic exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium” (“Joy of the Gospel”), Pope Francis notes the Church’s relationship with the followers of Islam has taken on great importance, since they are now significantly present in many traditionally Christian countries, where they can freely worship and become fully a part of society.
“We must never forget that they ‘profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, who will judge humanity on the last day’ (§252),” he says.
According to him, the Qur’an has retained some Christian teachings.
“Jesus and Mary receive profound veneration and it is admirable to see how Muslims both young and old, men and women, make time for daily prayer and faithfully take part in religious services. Many of them also have a deep conviction that their life, in its entirety, is from God and for God,” he shares.
“They also acknowledge the need to respond to God with an ethical commitment and with mercy towards those most in need,” the pope adds.
Themed “Mercy and Compassion”, Pope Francis’s upcoming apostolic visit to the Philippines scheduled on Jan. 15 to 19, 2015 is an event local Church officials predict will give Filipino Catholics a much-needed spiritual transformation.
The pope’s official Philippine itinerary is as follows:
• Jan. 15, 2015
Arrival from Sri Lanka – Villamor Air Base Motorcade to the Apostolic Nunciature – Taft Avenue, Manila
• Jan. 16, 2015
Welcome Ceremony – Malacañan Palace, Manila Motorcade to the Cathedral-Basilica of the Immaculate Conception (Manila Cathedral); Mass with Bishops, Priests, and Religious – Cathedral-Basilica of the Immaculate Conception (Manila Cathedral); Motorcade to the Mall of Asia Arena, Pasay; Encounter with Families – Mall of Asia Arena, Pasay
• Jan. 17, 2015
Departure for Archdiocese of Palo – Villamor Air Base Arrival at Tacloban Airport Holy Mass – Tacloban Airport Lunch with the Poor and Survivors of Calamities at Gonzagahaus (Residence of the Archbishop of Palo) – Palo, Leyte; Blessing of the Pope Francis Center for the Poor – Palo, Leyte; Meeting with the Priests and Religious at Cathedral of Our Lord’s Transfiguration (Palo Cathedral) – Palo, Leyte; Departure for Manila Arrival at Manila – Villamor Air Base
• Jan. 18, 2015
Brief Meeting with the Religious Leaders and Encounter with the Youth – Pontifical University of Santo Tomas, España, Manila; Motorcade to Rizal Park, Manila; Concluding Mass, Rizal Park, Manila
• Jan. 19, 2015
Motorcade from the Apostolic Nunciature Departure for Rome – Villamor Air Base (Raymond A. Sebastián)