During a brief, somber ceremony yesterday in St. Peter’s Basilica, Pope Francis offered words of comfort to the Filipino community in Rome.
The Holy Father blessed a mosaic of St. Pedro Calungsod, a Filipino martyr canonized by Pope Benedict XVI in October 2012. The mosaic will be placed near the tomb of Pope Paul VI.
Last week, the Philippine islands were struck by Typhoon Haiyan, the second deadliest typhoon in Filipino history. The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council reported that as of November 20th, over 4,000 people have died and over 18,000 have been injured. Thousands remain missing as humanitarian efforts continue in the areas affected by the calamity.
The Holy Father expressed his solidarity and admiration of the Filipino people, saying that while he heard that their trials were strong, he also “heard that the people were strong.”
“What [Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle] said is true: faith comes above the ruins, the solidarity of all at the moment of trial. Why do these things happen? It cannot be explained. There are so many things that we cannot understand.”
Pope Francis compared all who are trying to make sense of such a tragedy to children who ask their parents questions to understand situations they do not understand. However, he noted, children many times to not need an answer, they only need the reassurance of their parents in an incomprehensible situation.
“The child has a need in that insecurity, that his father and mother look at him. He has need of the eyes of his parents; he has need of the heart of his parents,” he said. The 76 year old Pontiff encouraged the Filipino to do the same with God during this moment of suffering.
“At this time of so much suffering, do not tire of asking: “Why?” as the children,” he said. “And in this way you will attract our Father’s eyes on your people; you will attract the tenderness of the Father of Heaven upon you, as the child does when he asks: “Why? Why?”
Concluding his address, Pope Francis called on the Filipino community present to not pray to God for explanations, but rather to ask “that our Father look at us.”
“I also accompany you with this prayer of ‘why’?” he said. (J.A.E.)