Cebu News

Rome: No pope posters please

The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - Vatican officials had requested the Archdiocese of Palo—in a set of instructions for the papal motorcade set on January 17 from Tacloban City to Palo town in Leyte—to remove banners or tarpaulins bearing the image of Pope Francis.

Father Amadeo Alvero, head of the Papal Visit to the Archdiocese of Palo information and social communications committee, said the faithful should instead put up tarps with the images of Jesus, parishes’ patron saints or that of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The Vatican’s suggestion was perceived as a sign of Pope Francis’s personal disposition of humility and submissiveness to Christ from whom his official title stems.

According to a report from rappler.com, Pope Francis had requested organizers of his Philippine trip to remove posters greeting him along the roads of his motorcade, said Alvero.

Archbishop Socrates Villegas, Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines president, relayed to Alvero the pope’s message for organizers to have the posters replaced with those of Jesus Christ.

“The pope said he’s not the focus of this event. He said the focus is Christ,” Villegas told Alvero.

Posters of Pope Francis are now lining up the road to and from the Daniel Z. Romualdez  Airport and the Palo Cathedral, where a giant tarpaulin welcoming the pope is installed.

Alvero earlier said the archdiocese will be heeding “as much as possible” the pope’s request to replace his posters in Leyte.

“We must be happy to welcome Christ through the pope, to welcome Jesus’s message of mercy and compassion through Pope Francis,” he said.

Yesterday morning, during the motorcade dry run, some tarps and banners with the pope’s image on them were removed, although many have been retained by those who posted these up.

Alvero, however, said the Church has no way but to be lenient on this matter because the intent might be misconstrued by the people and blown out of proportion if they insist on the removal of the posters.

“The archdiocese does not even know who put up these tarps and banners,” he said.

Alvero said the archdiocese could just hope that there will be no more greeting tarps bearing the pope’s face that will be posted along the papal motorcade route.

“The people who posted these do not want to remove these tarps because they already spent for these materials. The Church, however, does not view these (posters) as an affront to the Church, considering the culture of those who posted these,” he said.

Engineer Dalmacio Grafil, a member of the Papal Visit’s local information committee and publisher of the Leyte Samar Daily Express, said the Vatican, however, will allow greetings in text form mentioning the pastoral visit’s theme of “Mercy and Compassion” and images of Jesus, Mary or the parishes’ patron saints.

Palo Archbishop John Du encouraged all survivors of typhoon Yolanda to join in welcoming the Pope, the papal Mass and the motorcade.

“This is a rare opportunity to experience the mercy and compassion of God through the apostolic mission of the Vicar of Christ on earth, the Pope,” he said, as he called on the faithful to carry banners that say “God is merciful and compassionate.”

Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, on the other hand, said the pope ‘s  message in coming is the need for the Church to focus on helping the poor.

“The visit of the Holy Father is focused on the poor. Poor children who are not baptized, poor couple who could not afford to be married in the church. These are the very people who need help and we are looking into what we can do about it,” the Cebu archbishop said.

Meanwhile, Leyte Governor Leopoldo Dominico Petilla told reporters that officials of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines have assured him and the public that there would be no power interruption in the province during the papal visit.

At the House of Representatives, Cebu sixth district Representative Luis Gabriel Quisumbing filed a resolution expressing that the Filipinos “pray for the safety and good health of Pope Francis during his trip to our country.”

Aside from being his gesture of compassion to the survivors of super typhoon Yolanda, Pope Francis’ November 15 to 19 visit also marks the 20th anniversary of the 1995 Manila World Youth Day, the largest ever papal event that saw around five million young people joining then Pope John Paul II in prayer.

“In behalf of the entire Filipino people, especially our constituents in the 6th District of Cebu, we extend our welcome and honor to His Holiness Pope Francis on the occasion of his apostolic visit to the Philippines”,  Quisumbing said.

Alvero, though, told The FREEMAN that Cebu City may not be an alternative stop for Pope Francis on his way to Leyte should weather be a factor to this. He, however, has no information regarding this possible option.

“Instead, in case of bad weather on January 17, the papal visit would be moved to January 18, swapping his scheduled stops for both days,” he said.

Before leaving for Manila yesterday to help welcome Pope Francis, Palma assured that Cebu is ready should circumstances prompt the pope to drop by.

“Cebu is big city. The Pope has been to smaller cities, with less equipment, facilities and capabilities. There is no doubt that Cebu can accommodate him if there is any change in the schedule. We are ready if that happens,” Palma said.

He, however, said there is still no official word either from Vatican or from the Papal visit organizers if there is a change in the Pope’s itinerary.

“We rely on the instructions from the Papal Nuncio. With the advent of communication and technology, it will not be hard to coordinate,” Palma said.

The Police Regional Office-7, on the other hand, also set in place contingency plans in case the pope’s plane would land in Cebu if the weather gets worse.

Chief Superintendent Prudencio Tom Bañas said the Pope will be secure if in case he lands here.

“Madali naman nating ma-isecure ang Pope.  May plano naman kami. We will adjust our schedules accordingly.  We have the Armed Forces (Army) with us also,” assured the PRO-7 director.

The military and the police, Bañas said, will secure the perimeter of the Mactan Benito Ebuen Air Base, which he thinks to be the most likely place for the pope’s plane to land.

“Naplano na rin yan…. We have to secure Mactan Airbase and to secure outside traffic.  The most is 30 minutes until such time na mag clear na yung weather,” Bañas added.

Bañas admitted having Pope Francis land in Mactan is very farfetched; but if the weather does not permit the Pontiff to land immediately in Tacloban City so that he would instead drop by Cebu, all the security arrangements are already in place.

“Medyo farfetched…. If ever he drops by, it’s only for bad weather. But actually kasama na rin yun (Pope Francis dropping by Cebu) sa security arrangement kaya si Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and the DOTC secretary are around was here yesterday,” Bañas said. — Eileen Nazareno Ballesteros, Flor Z. Perolina, Jessa J. Agua, Bryner L. Diaz with reports from Primo A. Cayubit and the wires/RHM

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