Pope Dons Rain Poncho, Visits Typhoon Survivors

But Francis has to leave Philippines early because of another storm
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 17, 2015 7:21 AM CST
Pope Dons Rain Poncho, Visits Typhoon Survivors
Wearing a yellow raincoat, Pope Francis gives a thumbs up to the faithful as he arrives in Tacloban, Philippines, Saturday.   (Wally Santana)

(Newser) – Pope Francis traveled to the far eastern Philippines to comfort survivors of devastating Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, but had to cut his own trip short because of another approaching storm. In a windy and rainy morning Mass with a crowd that included Haiyan survivors, he conceded it was hard to find the right words. "So many of you have lost everything," Francis told 150,000 Catholic faithful gathered in an open field near the airport in Tacloban, the city hit hardest by Typhoon Haiyan. "I don't know what to say to you, but the Lord does know what to say to you. Some of you lost part of your families. All I can do is keep silent. And I walk with you all with my silent heart."

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Many in the crowd wept as Francis spoke, overcome by the memory of the Nov. 8, 2013, storm that leveled entire villages with ferocious winds and 21-foot waves and left more than 7,300 people dead or missing. Francis joined them in solidarity, even donning the same yellow rain poncho over his vestments that Mass-goers were given because of the rain. Visiting a cathedral in the city of Palo after the Mass, Francis said he would have to leave four hours early. "I apologize to all of you," he said. "I am sad about this, truly saddened." Tropical Storm Mekkhala was expected to make landfall on nearby Samar Island in the late afternoon or early evening with winds of 60 to 80 miles per hour. (Read more Pope Francis stories.)

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