By Loreta Sol L. Dinlayan

MALAYBALAY CITY (BukidnonNews.Net/25 January) As I watched the on-going mass in Tacloban City last Saturday, January 17, I remember the time when storm Yolanda devastated the place.

For the second time, I shed a tear for the people of that city. But it was a tear of joy this time. I could feel the power of sympathy with those who had losses. The sympathizer was no other than Pope Francis saying the mass in the midst of Yolanda’s traces of intrusion. He was there in the land of losses; losing friends, families and even future for those who cannot move on yet in their lives.

Together with the 1.2 billion Catholics around the world, I admire the pope for a reason that he is a Jesuit, a religious denomination that is faithful in producing men and women for others, an Atenean mission advocated by the Ateneo schools in the Philippines.

I embraced that calling when I was a freshman in college and it was the time when I first heard the life story of St. Francis de Assisi. I’m not surprised why the 266th pope chose the name Francis after that poor man in Assisi.

Photo by Loreta Sol Dinlayan/BukidnonNews.Net

A sculpture of St. Francis at Xavier University, Cagayan de Oro City.Photo by Loreta Sol Dinlayan/BukidnonNews.Net

Pope Francis’ gestures to the Filipinos are equally
significant with his messages in the homilies.

I appreciate the scope of his message that includes the challenge in supporting the peace process in Mindanao and in giving attention to the indigenous peoples and the religious minorities. Such concern touched my heart and I call it the culture of inclusion.

Others call it liberalism. As we extend the degree of liberalism in dealing with people, the more subjects are covered in that dealing. This culture of inclusion is sympathetic to those who are marginalized by religious standard.

This culture of inclusion does not compromise moral standard, as some accused the Pope of. It is rather enriching the process on how to implement the standard without rejecting the human subject. This could be the reason why Pope Francis won the heart of the Filipinos, especially the spiritually poor, who are hungry of recognition from a sincere sympathizer.

The Pope’s sympathy to the poor is a product of Jesuit’s teaching, I think. He had the thought of the Filipinos right after the storm Yolanda. He wanted then to visit the Philippines. As he declared that statement in Tacloban last Saturday many hearts melted, including mine.

I didn’t had the chance to meet the Pope or even see the Pope from a distance but I have this feeling of commonality between the Pope and I.

May I not intrude any desecration of putting myself side by side with this 76 years old humble man from Argentina who humbly solicits prayer from the believers. Like him, I see the simplicity of life. Like him, I experience the freedom to appreciate life in its simplest form. Pope Francis felt the light and freedom dawned on him as he prayed in Pauline Chapel prior to his appearance as a new pope in March 13, 2013.

Prayer transforms. He prays. I pray. The more I pray, the more I am transformed. I can’t count anymore how many rejoicing I’ve got each time I finish praying.
There is a man I know in this world of 7 billion people. His name is Jorge Mario Bergoglio, a Jesuit. He needs prayer. I need prayer. The Pope and I need prayers. Today.

(BUKIDNON VIEWS is the opinion section of BukidnonNews.Net. Loreta Sol L. Dinlayan is currently the in-charge of the Ethno-cultural Museum of Bukidnon State University, where she teaches social science and other subjects. She is the daughter of the late Datu Bagangbangan Lorenzo “Aki” Dinlayan. Angaray’s (lady friend’s) Take is her column for BUKIDNON VIEWS. This piece was originally posted in “Balugto,” her blog “of the colors of life, of the people, of culture in Bukidnon”. She can be reached through