Philippine Coast Guard personnel assist typhoon victims.

Pope Francis Prays for Philippine Typhoon Victims

Fr Leonard E Dollentas 

Pope Francis expressed his sympathy and assured the Filipinos affected by typhoon “Odette” (International name: Rai) of his prayers. “I express my closeness to the population of the Philippines, struck by a strong typhoon that has caused many deaths and destroyed so many homes,” the Pope wrote on Twitter Sunday night. “May the ‘Santo Niño’ bring consolation and hope to the families of those most affected,” he added.

The decline in the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths notwithstanding, the new disaster hit the country with a big blow. To date, a total of 208 people died following the onslaught of the typhoon, the Philippine National Police said Monday. The aftermath left a large swathe of destruction in Visayas and Mindanao (southern islands of the Philippines). The Philippine Southern News Report Bureau says that the typhoon engulfed villages in floods that trapped residents on roofs, toppled trees, and knocked out power.  Residents in the devastated areas said that the aftermath of the damage and casualties attests that typhoon Odette is one of the strongest typhoons to hit the country in recent years. It carried ferocious winds that ripped off roofs and forced down trees, while others experienced severe flooding.

The government managed to help more than 300,000 villagers and brought them to safety before the onslaught, officials said in the news. Along with the government efforts, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines reported that Catholic churches in the southern and central Philippines have opened their doors on Wednesday, December 15, to people affected by the typhoon. Expressing solidarity with the people, especially in Visayas and Luzon islands, Philippine Church leaders offered not only comfort and prayers but urged parishes to offer financial help and the needed food to the victims and those who suffered after the devastation. The help may be forwarded to local CARITAS centers in every Diocese.

Despite the new challenge, Filipinos are ready with their shield – strong faith in God. Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, has said, “Faith brings a sense of hope in the hearts of the Filipinos.” (Photo by Philippine Coast Guard)