Pope Francis Inspires Record 6 Million in the Philippines

pope francis 2013 wikicommons

Continuing to win hearts around the world, Pope Francis is blazing a record-breaking trail to peace. The leader of the Vatican is successfully bringing people together from diverse backgrounds, working for peace, faith, and a fix for climate change.

In the realm of environmentalism, Pope Francis has really energized people, raising awareness and encouraging people to make a difference in the world. The pope’s latest push has taken him on a tour of Asia, where many followers have greeted him with eager, open arms.

First landing in Sri Lanka, Pope Francis then made his way to the Philippines. A majority Catholic country with an emerging population of Muslims, he preached unity among the different faiths and called for increased dialog on climate change.

Man “Has Slapped Nature in the Face”

Speaking to the press while on the flight to the Philippines, Pope Francis related his perspective on the world’s environmental crisis. “I don’t know if it (human activity) is the only cause,” he said, “but mostly, in great part, it is man who has slapped nature in the face. We have in a sense taken over nature.”

This is a powerful message for a nation that has been gripped by natural disasters. Typhoon Haiyan caused major devastation and casualties in 2013. The Philippines are still continuing to recover from the immense damage the typhoon wreaked. The Philippine Islands have set an unfortunate example of how extreme weather conditions are increasing around the world, making focus and action on the environment clearly more urgent.

A Catholic Crusader for Global Good

This was the first papal visit to the Philippines in 20 years, and the excitement was evident. The Pope’s arrival in Manila generated a frenzy of commercialism, with an unprecedented array of memorabilia and dolls made in his honor.

Public security had to be amped up, along with the construction of barricades to contain the crowds as the Vatican leader’s visit approached. But there was no cause for alarm, and Pope Francis received a warm and energetic welcome. The people were excited to hear him speak about poverty, corruption, and the environment, appreciating his sensitive and common touch.

image (Image note and source: Manila Bay, Philippines by Travel Oriented, Flickr)

Addressing Record 6 Million in the Philippines

Pope Francis paid a visit to typhoon survivors, praising their courage. His arrival boosted the people’s spirits, along with boosting business. However, his arrival was partially dampened by news of an impending storm. Nevertheless, he drew a record 6 million people for an outdoor mass in the capital city of Manila.

Using his charisma to sponsor social and environmental change was clearly inspirational and well received by this poverty- and storm-stricken nation. During his speech, the Pope addressed the necessity to care for the environment, urging, “We need to see, with the eyes of faith, the beauty of God’s saving plan, the link between the natural environment and the dignity of the human person.”

An Inspiring Advocate for Mother Earth

Following his tour of Asia, Pope Francis plans to publish an encyclical on the environment, to be released this summer prior to the Paris 2015 UN Climate Summit. The Pope provided a glimpse into his views, commenting “We have, in a sense, lorded it over nature, over Sister Earth, over Mother Earth. I think man has gone too far. Thank God that today there are voices that are speaking out about this.”

Pope Francis’ words are refreshing in the face of climate-deniers and skeptics. He has riled up many of his more conservative followers, but this is not surprising, and clearly the Pope is undaunted by criticism. His dialog on nature and ecology has inspired hope and passion in Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

Caring for the Environment, God’s Creation

Discussing this shift towards stewardship of the Earth, Stephen Schneck of Catholic University of America wrote in an email to the New Republic: “Catholics are experiencing a moment of rising consciousness about our moral imperatives to care for the environment, which is God’s creation.”

Resonating deeply, the people were thrilled to see the Vatican leader as he spread his inspiring and relevant messages across Sri Lanka and the Philippines. With the mingling of rain, tears, faith, hope, and unity, the Pope’s tour of Asia was a major success. We are all waiting impatiently, as now Pope Francis will set his sights on an American tour this fall.

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(Image note and source: Pope Francis arrives in the Philippines, by Prasanna Welangoda, flicker )
 
(Top image note and source: Pope Francis, wikicommons )
 
 
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About the Author

Gina Merlino is a freelance writer who cares about environmental issues. She has a Bachelor's in Philosophy, a Master's in Engaged Humanities, and is an avid reader of the news. You can find me on Twitter.