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Pope Ends Asia Tour

  • VOA News

Pope Francis has ended his tour of Asia after a week-long trip that included a visit to Sri Lanka and the Philippines.

The pope flew back to Rome Monday, a day after delivering a Mass to around six million people in Manila's Rizal Park and surrounding streets, surpassing the five million record set by Pope John Paul II at the same park in 1995.

Millions of Filipinos gathered under a steady rain in Manila's Rizal Park and surrounding areas on Sunday to hear the Mass.

Genie Mutya, 35 year-old resident from town of Valenzuela said, "I'm really, really happy, never mind that I get wet until the ceremonies finish, as long as I'm here, I'll be present."

During his homily, Francis urged Filipinos to reject "social structures which perpetuate poverty, ignorance and corruption," a theme he stressed when he spoke to President Benigno Aquino and other officials on Friday.

"So he reminds us of the importance of protecting our families and those larger families, we are the church, God's family and the world of human family. Sadly in our day the family although often needs to be protected against insidious attacks and programs contrary to all that we hold true and sacred, all that is most beautiful and nobel in our culture,'' he said.

The pontiff’s visit to the Philippines, home to 80 million Roman Catholics, is the first since the 1995 trip by John Paul. The Philippines has the largest Catholic population of any country in Asia.

Philippine authorities assembled a security force of nearly 50,000 soldiers and police to protect Pope Francis. The two other popes to visit the Philippines were both targets of assassination attempts.

Some material for this report came from AP, AFP and Reuters.