Phanfone followed similar course to 2013 storm, deadliest ever.
After reciting the St Stephen’s Day Angelus on December 26, Pope Francis appealed for the people of the Philippines, victims of Christmas Day Typhoon Phanfone which killed at least 16 people.
“I join in the suffering that has struck the dear people of the Philippines due to Typhoon Phanfone,” said the pope.
Before inviting the faithful gathered in St Peter’s Square to recite the Hail Mary, he assured them of his own prayers, “for the numerous victims, for the wounded, and for their families.”
Typhoon Phanfone struck central Philippines on Christmas Day. The number of people missing is still unsure; around 60,000 have been evacuated.
Phanfone struck close to regions hit by Typhoon Haiyan (known also as Super Typhoon Yolanda) in 2013, the most powerful storm ever to make landfall. More than 6,000 people were killed in November that year, making it the Philippines’ deadliest typhoon.
He took our sorrows
During Francis’ visit to the Philippines in 2015, he visited Tacloban, which was severely affected by Typhoon Haiyan. His visit had to be cut short because of adverse weather on the island and concerns about him being able to fly out. However, at the Mass he celebrated there, he left aside his prepared text for the homily and gave an emotional reflection on the Passion of Christ and human suffering:
Jesus goes before us always; when we experience any kind of cross, he was already there before us.
If today all of us are gathered here, fourteen months after the passage of Typhoon Yolanda, it is because we are certain that we will not be disappointed in our faith, for Jesus has gone before us. In his passion he took upon himself all of our sorrows, and… Let me tell you something personal – when I witnessed his disaster from Rome, I felt that I had to be here. That is when I decided to come here. I wanted to come to be with you. Maybe you will tell me that I came a little late; that is true, but here I am!
I am here to tell you that Jesus is Lord; that Jesus does not disappoint. “Father”, one of you may tell me, “he disappointed me because I lost my house, I lost my family, I lost everything I had, I am sick”. What you say is true and I respect your feelings, but I see him there, nailed to the cross, and from there he does not disappoint us. He was consecrated Lord on that throne, and there he experienced all the disasters we experience. Jesus is Lord! And he is Lord from the cross, from there he reigned. That is why, as we heard in the first reading, he can understand us: he became like us in every way. So we have a Lord who is able to weep with us, who can be at our side through life’s most difficult moments.
So many of you have lost everything. I do not know what to tell you. But surely he knows what to tell you! So many of you have lost members of your family. I can only be silent; I accompany you silently, with my heart…
Many of you looked to Christ and asked: Why, Lord? To each of you the Lord responds from his heart. I have no other words to say to you. Let us look to Christ: he is the Lord, and he understands us, for he experienced all the troubles we experience.
With him, beneath the cross, is his Mother. We are like that child who stands down there, who, in times of sorrow and pain, times when we understand nothing, times when we want to rebel, can only reach out and cling to her skirts and say to her: “Mother!” Like a little child who is frightened and says: “Mother”. Perhaps that is the only word which can express all the feelings we have in those dark moments: Mother!
Let us be still for a moment and look to the Lord. He can understand us, for he experienced all these things. And let us look to our Mother, and like that little child, let us reach out, cling to her skirts and say to her in our hearts: “Mother”. Let us make this prayer in silence; let everyone say it whatever way he or she feels…