Bishop on papal visit: ‘Let’s keep it simple’

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PUERTO PRINCESA City, Palawan, August 6, 2014—Legendary Filipino hospitality notwithstanding, a prelate from Palawan believes that a simple welcome for Pope Francis next year will be the best option for both Church and government officials given the pontiff’s propensity for austerity.

“The activities and programs to be prepared must be in keeping with the Pope’s personality. Let us avoid holding costly, wasteful, and extravagant receptions,” said Bishop Pedro Arigo, apostolic vicar of Puerto Princesa, over Radyo Veritas.

“These, I think, will greatly displease him because they will not be consistent with his message of love and care for the poor,” he added.

The Philippines is currently preparing for the Holy Father's pastoral and state visit to the country from January 15-19, 2015. (Photo: Walter Sanchez Silva/CNA)

Since he assumed the See of Rome in March 2013, following the resignation of Benedict XVI, the first Jesuit Pope “from the ends of the world” has become known for his humility and simplicity in manner and clothing, cemented by his use of the “un-papal” name Francis, in honor of the medieval Italian saint and mystic who was known for his virtuous poverty.

Arigo pointed out that an expression of hospitality—a trait Filipinos are known the world over for—marked by ostentation and insensitivity will likely be an insult to people who have less in life.

The prelate advised against treating the Holy Father “just like any other celebrity”, reminding the Filipino faithful to focus on the message the Pope will be bringing, especially to the thousands affected by super typhoon Yolanda, instead on satisfying one’s personal “need” to brag about having met him in person.

Pope Francis, the 265th successor to Saint Peter and head of the world’s largest Christian religion, with over a billion adherents in all continents, is scheduled for a four-day pastoral and state visit to the biggest Catholic nation in Asia from January 15-19, 2015.

After Blessed Paul VI and Saint John Paul II, he will be the third Vicar of Christ to come to the Philippines. (Raymond A. Sebastián)

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