pastoral visit

Filipinos bring Santo Nino statues for blessings from Pope Francis

People in traditional dress hold statues of Santo Nino, the child Jesus, as Pope Francis celebrates Mass in Rizal Park in Manila, Philippines, Jan. 18. The Mass was celebrated on the feast of Santo Nino. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

MANILA, Philippines -- The record-breaking papal Mass in Rizal Park coincided with one of the most popular feast days in the Philippines: Santo Nino Day, or the feast of the Holy Child Jesus.

Many of the more than 6 million people who walked along the closed-off roads surrounding the park Jan. 18 held Santo Nino statues of various sizes. Their goal was to get their doll-like figurines blessed by Pope Francis.

Viljon Ilocos hugged his Santo Nino, dressed in a satiny green caftan with a gold thread design.

Pope, at Mass with an estimated 6 million people, tells Filipinos to protect the family

An elevated view shows a large crowd where Pope Francis celebrated Mass at Rizal Park in Manila, Philippines, Jan. 18. The view shows only a portion of the Mass site, which a local church official said was more than a mile long. Paul Haring | Catholic News Service

MANILA, Philippines -- Pope Francis told a crowd of an estimated 6 million gathered in a Manila park to protect the family "against insidious attacks and programs contrary to all that we hold true and sacred, all that is most beautiful and noble in our culture."

The pope's homily at the Jan. 18 Mass also reprised several other themes he had sounded during the four-day visit, including environmental problems, poverty and corruption.

Pope to Sri Lankans: Reconciliation means dialogue, 'pursuit of truth'

Pope Francis walks with President Maithripala Sirisena as the pontiff arrives at the international airport in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Jan. 13. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) See POPE-ARRIVE Jan. 13, 2015.

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka -- Arriving in Sri Lanka, a country recovering from two-and-a-half decades of ethnic and religious civil war, Pope Francis said reconciliation would require its people to explore their painful recent history and accept persistent differences within their multicultural society.

"The process of healing also needs to include the pursuit of truth, not for the sake of opening old wounds, but rather as a necessary means of promoting justice, healing and unity," the pope said Jan. 13 at an arrival ceremony at Colombo's international airport.

Pope Francis in Asia to promote reconciliation, recovery

VATICAN CITY-- Interreligious reconciliation and recovery from natural disaster will be major themes of Pope Francis' Jan. 13-18 visit to Sri Lanka and the Philippines, according to the Vatican spokesman.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi briefed reporters on the trip Jan. 7, noting that it would be the pope's second time in Asia, following a visit to South Korea in August. Pope Francis wanted to give the region special attention, the spokesman said, because no Asian country had received a papal visit in more than a decade, since the pontificate of St. John Paul II.

POPE'S MESSAGE | Ignoring God, not glorifying him, leads to violence

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople kissed Pope Francis as they embraced at an ecumenical prayer service in the patriarchal Church of St. George in Istanbul Nov. 29.

VATICAN CITY -- It is the complete disregard for God, not His glorification, that leads to violence in this world, Pope Francis said.

That is why people of faith, particularly Christians and Muslims, must work together for peace, and governments must guarantee full religious freedom for their citizens and religious communities, he said Dec. 3 at his weekly general audience.

Papal visit to South Korea: Legacy of martyrs, lay leadership lives on

VATICAN CITY -- When Pope Francis visits South Korea Aug. 14-18, he will find a Catholic Church that exemplifies much of what he hopes for the Church around the world, including a highly active laity, extensive efforts to help the needy and strong relations with non-Christian communities. So says a retired American missionary who spent nearly half a century building up Catholicism in the country.

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