In his homily at Mass in Manila today, attended by an estimated six million faithful, Pope Francis called for the protection of the family and young people in the face of the devil's lies and "insidious attacks" on the family. 

"The devil is the father of lies," the Holy Father said. "Often he hides his snares behind the appearance of sophistication, the allure of being “modern”, “like everyone else”. He distracts us with the promise of ephemeral pleasures, superficial pastimes. And so we squander our God-given gifts by tinkering with gadgets; we squander our money on gambling and drink; we turn in on ourselves. We forget to remain focused on the things that really matter. We forget to remain, at heart, children of God." 

But Santo Niño, the Child Jesus, an especially treasured feast of the Filipino faithful, also reminds us that the Christ Child "is the protector of this great country," the Pope continued. "He reminds us of the importance of protecting our families, and those larger families which are the Church, God’s family, and the world, our human family. Sadly, in our day, the family all too often needs to be protected against insidious attacks and programs contrary to all that we hold true and sacred, all that is most beautiful and noble in our culture."

And he added that as Jesus welcomed and embraced children, so "we, too, need to protect, guide and encourage our young people, helping them to build a society worthy of their great spiritual and cultural heritage."

"We need to see each child as a gift to be welcomed, cherished and protected," the Pope said. "And we need to care for our young people, not allowing them to be robbed of hope and condemned to life on the streets."

Please see below for the full text of the Pope's homily.

Just before the Mass, the Holy Father met privately with the father and cousin of Kristel Padasas, a young volunteer with Catholic Relief Services, who died tragically yesterday at Tacloban when scaffolding holding a loudspeaker at the papal Mass fell on her head. Vatican spokesman Father Thomas Rosica said it was "a very moving meeting and Cardinal Tagle served as interpreter.

"On the table were two beautiful photos of the young woman as a young girl with her parents," Father Rosica added. "The father said that he was shocked but he was consoled to know that his daughter had been able to prepare the event that allowed so many people in Tacloban to meet with the Pope. The Pope tried to reach the young woman's mother in Hong Kong but was unable to do so since the mother was en route from Hong Kong to the Philippines and would only arrive tomorrow."



Homily of His Holiness Pope Francis
Manila, Rizal Park
January 18, 2015

“A child is born to us, a son is given us” (Is 9:5).  It is a special joy for me to celebrate Santo Niño Sunday with you.  The image of the Holy Child Jesus accompanied the spread of the Gospel in this country from the beginning.  Dressed in the robes of a king, crowned and holding the sceptre, the globe and the cross, he continues to remind us of the link between God’s Kingdom and the mystery of spiritual childhood.  He tells us this in today’s Gospel: “Whoever does not accept the Kingdom of God like a child will not enter it” (Mk 10:15).  The Santo Niño continues to proclaim to us that the light of God’s grace has shone upon a world dwelling in darkness, bringing the Good News of our freedom from slavery, and guiding us in the paths of peace, right and justice.  The Santo Niño also reminds us of our call to spread the reign of Christ throughout the world.

In these days, throughout my visit, I have listened to you sing the song: “We are all God’s children”.  That is what the Santo Niño tells us.  He reminds us of our deepest identity.  All of us are God’s children, members of God’s family.  Today Saint Paul has told us that in Christ we have become God’s adopted children, brothers and sisters in Christ.  This is who we are.  This is our identity.  We saw a beautiful expression of this when Filipinos rallied around our brothers and sisters affected by the typhoon.
      
The Apostle tells us that because God chose us, we have been richly blessed!  God “has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens” (Eph 1:3).  These words have a special resonance in the Philippines, for it is the foremost Catholic country in Asia; this is itself a special gift of God, a blessing.  But it is also a vocation.  Filipinos are called to be outstanding missionaries of the faith in Asia.
      
God chose and blessed us for a purpose: to be holy and blameless in his sight (Eph 1:4).  He chose us, each of us to be witnesses of his truth and his justice in this world.  He created the world as a beautiful garden and asked us to care for it.  But through sin, man has disfigured that natural beauty; through sin, man has also destroyed the unity and beauty of our human family, creating social structures which perpetuate poverty, ignorance and corruption.
      
Sometimes, when we see the troubles, difficulties and wrongs all around us, we are tempted to give up.  It seems that the promises of the Gospel do not apply; they are unreal.  But the Bible tells us that the great threat to God’s plan for us is, and always has been, the lie.  The devil is the father of lies.  Often he hides his snares behind the appearance of sophistication, the allure of being “modern”, “like everyone else”.  He distracts us with the promise of ephemeral pleasures, superficial pastimes.  And so we squander our God-given gifts by tinkering with gadgets; we squander our money on gambling and drink; we turn in on ourselves.  We forget to remain focused on the things that really matter.  We forget to remain, at heart, children of God.  For children, as the Lord tells us, have their own wisdom, which is not the wisdom of the world.  That is why the message of the Santo Niño is so important.  He speaks powerfully to all of us.  He reminds us of our deepest identity, of what we are called to be as God’s family.
      
The Santo Niño also reminds us that this identity must be protected.  The Christ Child is the protector of this great country.  When he came into the world, his very life was threatened by a corrupt king.  Jesus himself needed to be protected.  He had an earthly protector: Saint Joseph.  He had an earthly family, the Holy Family of Nazareth.  So he reminds us of the importance of protecting our families, and those larger families which are the Church, God’s family, and the world, our human family.  Sadly, in our day, the family all too often needs to be protected against insidious attacks and programs contrary to all that we hold true and sacred, all that is most beautiful and noble in our culture.
      
In the Gospel, Jesus welcomes children, he embraces them and blesses them (Mk 10:16).  We too need to protect, guide and encourage our young people, helping them to build a society worthy of their great spiritual and cultural heritage.  Specifically, we need to see each child as a gift to be welcomed, cherished and protected.  And we need to care for our young people, not allowing them to be robbed of hope and condemned to life on the streets.
      
It was a frail child, in need of protection, who brought God’s goodness, mercy and justice into the world.  He resisted the dishonesty and corruption which are the legacy of sin, and he triumphed over them by the power of his cross.  Now, at the end of my visit to the Philippines, I commend you to him, to Jesus who came among us as a child.  May he enable all the beloved people of this country to work together, protecting one another, beginning with your families and communities, in building a world of justice, integrity and peace.  May the Santo Niño continue to bless the Philippines and to sustain the Christians of this great nation in their vocation to be witnesses and missionaries of the joy of the Gospel, in Asia and in the whole world.
      
Please pray for me!  God bless you all!



Address of Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle,
Archbishop of Manila
Thanksgiving Message
January 18, 2015

Most Holy Father,

In the name of the Archdiocese of Manila, the people who worked tirelessly for your pastoral visit, and the Filipinos whom you have been strengthened in faith these past days, I once again say Thank You. I say “Maraming Salamat po” (Thank you very much) on behalf of the street children, the orphans, the widows, the homeless, the informal settlers, the laborers, the farmers, the fisher folk, the sick, the abandoned elderly, the families of missing persons, the victims of discrimination, violence, abuse, exploitation, human trafficking, the Filipino migrant workers and their families, the survivors of natural calamities and armed conflicts, the non-Christian Catholics, the followers of non-Christian religions, the promoters of peace especially in Mindanao and creation that groans. We say again, “Maraming salamat po, Santo Padre.”

You often end your encounters with people by saying, “I ask you to pray for me.” We promise to pray for you. But we want to assure you that Jesus prays for you. Jesus himself declared to Peter, “I have prayed for you that you own faith may not fail.” (Luke 22:32). Your Holiness, you are blessed. Jesus prays for you. We your beloved Filipinos unite ourselves with Jesus in praying for you to God the Father.

You arrived in the Philippines three days ago. Tomorrow you will go. Every Filipino wants to go with you – not to Rome - but to the peripheries, to the shanties, to prison cells, to hospitals, to the world of politics, finance, arts, sciences, culture, education, and social communications. We will go to these worlds to bring the light of Jesus, Jesus who is the center of your pastoral visit and the cornerstone of the Church. We will go where the Light of Jesus is needed. Here in Luneta, the Qurino Grandstand, where heroes are revered, newly elected presidents take office and popes meet the Filipino faithful, here in a place of new beginnings, send us forth as missionaries of the light. Before you go, Holy Father, send us to spread the light of Jesus. Wherever the light of Jesus shines, you and the Filipino people will always be united. Mabuhay, Santo Padre! Mabuhay si Kristo! Let the light of Christ shine!



Post Communion Message of Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas
President of the Filippino Bishops' Conference

Most Holy Father,

The sun is now setting on Manila Bay. The romantic poets among us call the Manila Bay sunset view as the most beautiful sunset in the world. The setting sun ends the day. The sunset ushers in the twilight. Some of us are afraid of the sunset as we are afraid of the dark. But we are not afraid anymore. In the many days and months and years ahead, we will always bask in the sunrise because you have brought us awesome sunshine to last us many lifetimes. Holy Father you are our sunshine!

For many days since you came last Thursday, it has been always been sunrise of smiles for us Filipinos. You have brought us joy. You have brought us hope. You brought us warmth. You have brought us Jesus. When you give us the blessings tonight, we promise you “We will be your lights; we will be the lights of Jesus for Asia and the world”. We will light the world with the mercy and compassion of Jesus. We will light the world with the joy of the Gospel.

On behalf of the bishops of the Philippines please receive Most Holy Father our message of gratitude for celebrating the fiesta of the Santo Nino with us today. We are a nation of children, beautiful children, holy children, God loving children. The children of the Philippines are our sunshine too. Children are our happiness. Children are our hope. Children are our wealth! We are all children of our loving Father in heaven.

Thank you for being a child of God with us, among us. You are our Father. You are our brother. You are our friend. You are our inspiration. You are our sunshine! Pope Francis we love you!