Manila, Philippines, Jan 15, 2015 / 20:06 pm
Pope Francis praised Philippines Catholics' strong faith and challenged them to continue to let the Christian message bear fruit, noting the upcoming 500th anniversary of Christianity's arrival in Philippines.
"It is my hope that this important anniversary will point to its continuing fruitfulness and its potential to inspire a society worthy of the goodness, dignity and aspirations of the Filipino people," he said Jan. 16.
Pope Francis travelled to the Philippines Jan. 15 after spending three days in Sri Lanka as part of his second Asian pilgrimage as pope. Catholic influence is strong in the Philippines, where 86 percent of its 98.4 million people identify as Catholic.
Philippines President Benigno Aquino, in office since 2010, met with Pope Francis for about an hour before the Pope's public remarks to a large crowd of diplomats, public authorities and others gathered at the Presidential Palace in Manila.