Pope Francis was on the island of Leyte today to celebrate Mass and console victims of the 2013 typhoon Yolanda, but he has had to leave the island some four hours ahead of schedule because a tropical storm is headed to the area.
Tropical Storm Mekkhala was expected to hit some 40 miles north of Tacloban later today. Tacloban was at the center of the 2013 typhoon, and was the site of the Pope’s Mass this morning.
The weather forced the Pope to depart for Manila around 1 p.m., though he was originally scheduled to bless the Pope Francis Center for the Poor in Palo at 3 and meet with priests and religious and families of survivors at the Palo Cathedral at 3:30.
He did make brief stops at both the center and the cathedral before heading to the airport, telling the people, “I apologize to you all. I am truly saddened because I have something prepared especially for you.”
“But let us leave everything in the hands of Our Lady,” he added.
His schedule was moved ahead starting in the morning due to the inclement weather.
The hundreds of thousands who attended Mass in Tacloban braved the rain with yellow disposable rain ponchos, as did the Pope, and there was a strong wind throughout the celebration.
The Pope improvised his homily and a prayer after Communion, visibly moved as he stressed to the typhoon victims that Jesus does not let us down.