· At the end of his visit in Asia, Pope Francis celebrates Mass in Rizal Park in Manila with millions of faithful ·
The rain fell on Manila all day on Sunday, 18 January, but it did not dampen the faith or enthusiasm of the Filipino people. An ocean of people attended the Mass at Rizal Park, which was the Holy Father's last public meeting; he left the country on Monday morning, 19 January, at the conclusion of his visit to Asia.
Under the shelter of umbrellas and coloured ponchos, many came out holding small statues of the Child Jesus venerated as the Santo Niño, whose feast the Filipino Church celebrated that Sunday. The Pope took the opportunity to recall that we must regard “each child as a gift to be welcomed, cherished and protected”, especially within the family which today is threatened by “insidious attacks and programs contrary to all that we hold true and sacred, all that is most beautiful and noble in our culture”. “We too,” he said after recalling Jesus' attitude towards children, “need to protect, guide and encourage our young people, helping them to build a society worthy of their great spiritual and cultural heritage”. And we must not allow them “to be robbed of hope and condemned to life on the streets”.
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