BACNOTAN, LA UNION—Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr today exhorted the students, graduates and professors of the Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University here, one of many state Universities established by his father in Northern Luzon, to follow the brand of humility of Pope Francis, the 4TH pope to visit the country, as he arrives this afternoon at the Villamor Air Base.
DMMMSU celebrated its 34th founding anniversary with the presentation of university awards and recognition to graduates, retirees and current enrolees in its Bacnotan campus.
He fondly recalled his first meeting with the pontiff last July 2014 at the Vatican, when he, his wife Lisa and eldest son, paid a pilgrimage to be able to catch a glimpse of the Holy Father. He called Pope Francis a rock star, whose simplicity and down to earth attitude has won the hearts of both Catholics and non- Catholics worldwide.
He said the country is fortunate to be visited after 21 years by a pope coinciding with the 34th founding anniversary of DMMMSU. The last papal visitor, Pope, now Saint John Paul II, came to celebrate the 1995 World Youth Day when DMMMSU had its 14th founding anniversary.
“The papal visit is very significant to our nation. We desperately need it, especially the strong message of ‘mercy and compassion’ that he brings to the Filipino faithful,” the senator said adding that the visit of the head of the Roman Catholic Church, the spiritual leader of 12 billion Catholic worldwide, would certainly bring about a resurgence and renewal in the faith for some 80 million Filipino Catholics.
He likened the indefatigable 78 year old Pontiff to a “great comet making appearance in our skies” as it is indeed a rare and infrequent occurrence.
He said the humility and simplicity of Pope Francis can be seen from his choice of not wearing the regal priestly vestments, by refusing to live in the Papal palace and shunning reference of being a rock star or other grandiose titles.
He said he is humbled by the determination of the pope to visit the Philippines precisely to be with and feel the pain of the survivors of super typhoon Yolanda in November 2013 and other natural calamities that hit the country in recent months.
He is attuned to the needs, weaknesses and disadvantages of the poor. Perhaps this is because Pope Francis himself had previously experienced poverty, having been a former janitor and nightclub bouncer in Argentina, the senator added.
“Leading by example, he prays that we all heed he pleas of the poor and the disadvantaged with respectful and compassionate listening,” he said.
He said that during Pope Francis’ papacy, he wants the Catholic Church to undergo a paradigm shift from a doctrinal and dogmatic church to a “field hospital after battle” where it takes care of the battered and wounded in the battlefield.
“He also said he wants the church that is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a church that I unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security,” Bongbong said.
He said according to Pope Francis, “we are all brothers and sisters – Christians, Muslims and Jews—a people of many faces who all look up to Abraham as a common father figure,” the senator stressed.
Even business leaders have a thing or two to learn from Pope Francis. He challenges the general worldview of business and the economy saying “business is a vocation and a noble vocation provided those engaged in it see themselves challenged by a greater meaning in life, I e. to serve the common good by striving to increase the goods of the world and to make them more accessible to all,” Bongbong recalled the pontiff’s exhortations.
He asked the audience to learn more about Pope Francis, aka Father Jorge Bergoglio, his life, his person, his theology and virtues from news accounts, from his messages and writings, which can befound in the Internet in the Vatican website.