Pope Francis offers prayers for 'Ursula' victims

THE leader of the Catholic Church offered prayers for the victims of Typhoon Ursula (international name Phanfone), which hit central Philippines on December 24 and 25.

Speaking at the end of his Angelus address at the St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis said he is one with the Filipinos in praying for the victims of the typhoon.

“I join in the pain that hit the dear population of the Philippines because of the typhoon Phanfone,” the Pope was quoted by CBCP News, the official news agency of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), as saying.

“I pray for the numerous victims, for the injured, and for their families,” he added.

Pope Francis capped the message by inviting the 25,000 people present to pray a "Hail Mary (Ave Maria)“ for the Filipino people, “whom I love so much.”

During the Christmas Day (Wednesday) mass at the Manila Cathedral, Manila Archbishop Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle also offered prayers for the victims of "Ursula".

He said offering prayers is imperative as this is one way of making the typhoon-hit communities still feel the spirit of Christmas despite the calamity.

"Let us pray for our brethren, especially in the Visayas and Bicol areas, who have just felt the effects of the typhoon," said the Cardinal during the homily.

"I am inviting everyone to pause and have a moment of silence for our brothers and sisters. Christmas comes even if you are in the evacuation centers," added Tagle.

At least 28 people were killed after Typhoon Ursula (Phanfone) swept through central Philippines on Christmas eve and Christmas Day, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).

In all, the typhoon affected 185,168 persons, including over 58,000 people who needed to be evacuated. The typhoon affected the same areas that were devastated by Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in November 2013. (HDT/SunStar Philippines)