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Pope Francis to Yolanda survivors: I’m here with you

Pope Francis wears a rain poncho as he attends a Mass near Tacloban airport
Pope Francis (L) wears a rain poncho as he attends a Mass near Tacloban airport January 17, 2015. An emotional Pope Francis, wearing a plastic poncho over his vestments to protect him from the wind and rain on Saturday, comforted survivors of Typhoon Haiyan, the Philippines’ worst natural disaster that killed about 6,300 people 14 months ago. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

To appease their sadness and grief, Pope Francis on Saturday told a sea of typhoon Yolanda survivors that they are not alone after many lives were lost due to the strongest typhoon to hit the country in November 2013.

Though it is raining in Tacloban, Pope Francis braved and cheerily smile and waved before a crowd of 120,000 and held a Mass at the makeshift stage at the Tacloban Airport.

“When I saw from Rome the catastrophe, I felt that I had to be here,” the Pope said in his homily, in Spanish. “And on those very days, I decided to come here. I am here to be with you. A little bit late, I have to say, but I am here.”

“‘Father,’ you might say to me, ‘I was let down because I lost so many things — my house, my livelihood — I have illness.’ It’s true if you would say that and I respect those sentiments,” Pope Francis said, addressing the typhoon survivors.

“But Jesus there, nailed to the cross, from there, He does not let us down,” the Pope said, as some devotees started weeping openly while listening to the pontiff’s homily.

“There, He experienced all calamities that we experience… We have a Lord who is capable of crying with us, capable of walking with us, in the most difficult moments of life,” he added.

Yolanda was the strongest typhoon to ever hit the country and claimed thousands of lives, while leaving the area swept and flattened.

But Pope Francis said they should not lose hope and put their faith in God.

“So many of you have lost everything. 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 silence and walk with you all with my silent heart.”

“Many of you have asked the Lord, ‘Why, Lord?’ And to each of you to your heart, Christ responds from His heart upon the cross. I have no more words to say to you. Let us look to Christ. He is the Lord. He understands us because He underwent all the trials that we, that you, have experienced,” he said.

“In the moments when we have so much pain, when we no longer understand anything, all we can do is grab hold of her (Mary) hand firmly, and say ‘mom’ as a child says to her mother when he or she feels fear,” he added.

Pope Francis said that they are not alone.

“Please know that Jesus never lets you down. Please know that the love and tenderness of Mary never lets you down… Let us move forward, always forward, and walk together as brothers and sisters in the Lord, forward,” the Pope said.

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