Despite a severe tropical storm approaching, Pope Francis made an effort to briefly stop at all the locations he was scheduled to visit before flying back to Manila.
With sustained winds of 60 mph (100 kph) Tropical Storm “Amang” was expected to make landfall on Samar Island, located roughly 38 mi. (62 km) northeast of Tacloban in the afternoon.
Following this morning’s Mass at Tacloban’s International Airport, the Pope met immediately with survivors of Typhoon Haiyan at the Archbishop’s residence in Palo. Although he ate quickly, he took a moment to greet those present and even pose for pictures with them.
The Pope was also scheduled to bless the new “Pope Francis Center for the Poor”. According to Vatican spokesman, Fr. Federico Lombardi, despite being unable to enter due to time constraints, the Holy Father blessed the center from his car.
The Holy Father also met briefly with clergy, religious men and women, and seminarians. He apologized for his quick exit from the island.
“I have to tell you something that makes me unhappy: the problem is that the way things were planned was that the plane would leave at 5pm this afternoon,” he explained. “But there’s a second grade typhoon, or storm that’s around us and the pilot of the plane has insisted we have to leave at 1pm. We just have time to get to the plane because the weather forecast says after 1pm it will get much worse. So I apologize to all of you.”
“I am so sorry about this because I had something especially prepared for you,” he continued. “Let us leave everything in the hands of our Lady because I have to go now.”
Arriving at the airport, Pope Francis left Tacloban and his plane landed safely in Manila at 3:00 p.m. local time, where he was taken to the Apostolic Nunciature. Thousands of people lined the streets to welcome the Pope’s return to the Filipino capital.