A Vatican cardinal visiting the Philippines on behalf of Pope Francis as a gesture of consolation and spiritual closeness to the population after super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) has raised hopes of a papal visit to the country.
Cardinal Robert Sarah, president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, said during a Mass on Tuesday at the La Libertad Mission Church in Palo town in Leyte, one of the hardest-hit areas, that Pope Francis had said to him: “You go now because I might be going there also.”
The super typhoon hit the Philippines on Nov. 8 last year.
The Pope has donated an initial US$150,000 in emergency aid through Cor Unum, and sent Cardinal Sarah to the Philippines to visit the areas affected by Yolanda, and to extend more assistance for rehabilitation efforts. He returns to Rome on Thursday.
“I would not tell you the date but the Holy Father has been telling me ‘I might be also going there,’” Cardinal Sarah said, according to a report in GMA News.
The cardinal’s schedule has included a meeting with Filipino bishops, an encounter with the president of the Philippines, Benigno Aquino III, and a visit to the area of Tacloban, which was most severely affected by the typhoon.
In the context of the visit, Cardinal Sarah will present, in the name of the Holy Father and through “Cor Unum”, a plan for the new building of an orphanage and a rest home for the elderly. The building will include, among other things, a small convent for the nuns, a chapel and a dispensary.
According to recent reports by Caritas Philippines / Nassa, typhoon Haiyan-Yolanda caused over 5,500 deaths, more than 26,000 injuries, and almost 2,000 missing persons. Around 3,8 million people, belonging to more than 851,000 families, were left homeless. In total, 12 million people suffered damage or losses of various types, in 574 towns and cities, and now there are fears of epidemics.