DAGUPAN City, Pangasinan, Jan. 24, 2015—While many are still “high” from the country’s Petrine encounter after Pope Francis’ historic visit, the head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) makes a rundown of what unfolded over the past few days, noting, however, that recent reports on the apostolic trip tends to lack substance.
“The focus is being turned towards the surface and not the substance. As expected, there were much interest on what the Pope ate; the type of chairs he sat on; the vestments he wore; the vehicles he rode in,” shares CBCP president Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan in a post-papal visit statement.
‘Papal visit glow’
“Clearly the Holy Father was not paying attention to all that. All he wanted was to be nourished so he would have the strength and energy for the demands of the events, and to have the proper transport for his interaction with the people lined up in the streets that he passed by. He even wore a plastic raincoat over his vestments!” he adds.
The prelate describes the post-papal visit scenario as shifting “from euphoria to reality,” doubting that the media’s currently “religious-reflective” mood will last long.
“The glow will fade slowly in the media, especially in the social media (where millions of selfies have sprouted!). But if we continue to reflect on the words he left us, if we continue to etch in our memory his loving smile, his tender embrace for the children, the sick, the elderly, the destitute; if we continue to act on his words, the glow will ever remain in our hearts, giving us the joy, the hope, the faith and the peace that comes from Jesus, our Lord, whom he brought to us in those five glorious, grace-filled, joyful, jubilant, ecstatic days in January,” he explains.
Among the controversies “simmering in the media pot” Villegas mentions are the Malacañang-bishops tiff allegedly revived by the “inappropriate” reference of President Benigno Aquino III to the bishops who allegedly criticized him while keeping mum on his predecessor’s questionable actions, as well as the “all too trivial bashing” of the priest-emcee at the pre- and post- Mass event at the Luneta, whom netizens say disturbed the solemnity of the event.
According to the prelate, the poor priest was merely performing the heroic task of “ministering” to the waiting crowds, all on their toes and later on, pelted by the rain.
Despite all brouhaha, Villegas thanks the media for their comprehensive coverage of the Pope’s visit, with many television stations foregoing shows, so that the papal events could be shown live.
“Their efforts to provide in-depth and substantial commentary from Church experts were very commendable. Throughout the five days of the visit the media performed their task with professionalism, and in most cases, with enthusiasm and heartfelt emotion.
Pope Francis recently concluded a five-day apostolic and state visit to the Philippines from Jan. 15 to 19. (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCP News)