VATICAN CITY, DEC. 12, 2002 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II inaugurated a new pastoral activity: instead of his visiting the parishes of Rome, they are now coming to see him.
The first such parish was that of St. Prudentiana, a focal point for the thousands of Filipino immigrants living in Rome.
The Pope should have met with them last Feb. 24, but the pain caused by the osteoarthritis in his right knee forced him to cancel that visit.
Today, more than 4,000 Filipinos came to Paul VI Hall. John Paul II celebrated Mass and gave them words of encouragement. “The fact that you are immigrants makes you more lovable in the eyes of Jesus,” he said.
The parish choir sang. Philippine flags and colors accented the auditorium. During the Offertory, several Filipinos danced up to the altar singing a hymn composed especially for that Mass.
In the homily, the Holy Father focused on the difficulties of immigration. “Many of you have had the possibility to find work here in Italy and have reached a level of life that enables you to help relatives who have stayed in the homeland,” the Pope observed.
“For others, however, and I hope they are few, the condition of immigrants has caused serious problems, including loneliness, separation from families, the loss of values of the past, and in certain cases, even the loss of the faith,” the Pontiff added.
For this reason, John Paul II made an appeal “to not lose hope and to continue to go forward on the path of solidarity and faith.”
Lastly, John Paul II called on those who give work to immigrants to welcome them “and love these brothers and sisters of ours in Christ.”