Pope Francis urged Filipinos around the world to continue to share the Catholic faith, saying it is “part of your genes” and a “blessed infectiousness” that must be preserved.
In his homily during the Mass for 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines at the Vatican on Sunday, the pontiff said the Philippines received the “joy of the Gospel.”
“You received the joy of the Gospel: the good news that God so loved us that he gave his Son for us. And this joy is evident in your people. We see it in your eyes, on your faces, in your songs and in your prayers. In the joy with which you bring your faith to other lands,” he said.
He expressed gratitude to Filipinos worldwide and cited Filipinas in Rome whom he described as “smugglers” of faith.
“Because wherever they go to work, they sow the faith. It is part of your genes, a blessed “infectiousness” that I urge you to preserve. Keeping bringing the faith, the good news you received five hundred years ago, to others,” he said. “I want to thank you, then, for the joy you bring to the whole world and to our Christian communities.”
Meantime, former Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, who also celebrated the Mass with Pope Francis, said the coming of the Christian faith to the Philippines is God’s gift. Tagle is the Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelizations of Peoples in Rome.
“The fact that the Christian faith was received by the majority of our people who gave it a Filipino character is also a gift of God. Now the Philippines has the third largest number of Catholics in the World. This is truly God’s gift,” he said.
“We attribute the enduring faith of the Filipino people only to God’s love, mercy, and fidelity and not to any merit of our own,” he added.
He also thanked Pope Francis for celebrating the Mass.
“I want to express our gratitude to you for leading us in this Eucharistic celebration and thanksgiving for the arrival of the faith in the Philippines 500 years ago. We bring you here the filial love of the Filipinos in the 7,641 islands of our country,” he said in his message to the Pope.
“There are more than 10 million Filipinos migrants living in almost 100 countries in the world. They are united with us this morning. We treasure your concern for us and all migrants in Rome,” Tagle said.