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In Cebu, few takers for Mass tickets

/ 02:28 AM January 15, 2015

CEBU CITY—Extraordinarily tight security put in place for Pope’s Francis in Tacloban City is being seen here as the main reason tickets for the

papal Mass are moving slowly despite the two cities being near each other.

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As of Tuesday, less than 200 people had registered to attend Mass to be celebrated by the Pope at the apron of the Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport in Tacloban, according to Msgr. Joseph Tan, Cebu Archdiocese spokesperson.

The number of those who got tickets for the papal Mass would be less than 20 percent of the 1,000 tickets allotted for the faithful in Cebu, he said.

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Tan said the Chancery of the Archdiocese of Cebu has been reminding the parishes to encourage pilgrims to attend Mass in Tacloban, but so far, there were only a few takers.

He said he believed that reports about strict security measures during the papal Mass may have discouraged the faithful from Cebu from trying to attend the Mass in Tacloban City.

Tan said some of the faithful decided not to go to Tacloban after they learned that only government vehicles would be allowed to pass the 12-kilometer route, which the Pope would use to travel from Tacloban to the town of Palo,

also in Leyte province, where he would have lunch on Jan. 17 with survivors of Supertyphoon “Yolanda” and the earthquake in Bohol province.

Since airports would be closed during the papal visit, people hoping to be in Tacloban during the Pope’s visit would have to take boats that would take several hours to reach Ormoc City, also in Leyte province. From Ormoc, they would have to take a bus to Tacloban, passing through Palo.

“Imagine the distance they have to walk,” said Tan. “They also fear that they do not have places to stay anymore, as hotels and pension houses are occupied. So they fear the inconvenience and the discomfort of going to Leyte,” said Tan.

He added that the faithful from Cebu also feel they are not part of the activities in Leyte because the purpose of the Pope’s visit is to meet with the Yolanda and earthquake survivors.

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Inconveniences, sacrifices

They also found it too much of an inconvenience to register first with their parishes before they would be given tickets to get into the Mass site, he said.

But Tan said the inconveniences and sacrifices are actually worth it because it is a rare opportunity to take part in Mass celebrated by the Pope himself.

“Where Peter is, there is the Church. Peter, for us, represents the body of Christ. By Catholic tradition, we accepted him (the Pope) as the vicar of Christ, holding the key to the Kingdom (of God),” Tan said.

He said taking part in Mass celebrated by the Pope is just like going to Rome. The pilgrimage to Leyte is cheaper, and closer to home, he added.

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TAGS: Cebu, Pope Francis, Religion, Tacloban City
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