'Our faith makes us stand up again and again,' Cardinal Tagle tells Pope

Pope and Cardinal Catholic News Agency Credit Alan Holdren CNA 11615 Pope Francis and Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle embrace at the close of Mass Jan. 16 in Manila. | Alan Holdren / CNA.

Seven cathedrals of Manila have been destroyed, but the eighth remains strong like the Philippines' people, Cardinal Luis Tagle of Manila said in an invigorating speech to Pope Francis Friday.

"This cathedral has been razed to the ground many times, but it refuses to vanish," the 57-year-old cardinal said at the close of a Mass with Pope Francis Jan. 16. "It boldly rises from the ruins – just like the Filipino people."

"Yes, Holy Father, we bishops, priests and religious men and women have seen and lived the suffering and determination of our people," he said, citing St. Paul's Second Letter to the Corinthians: "We are afflicted in every way possible, but we are not crushed."

Pope Francis celebrated Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception in Manila for bishops, clergy, vowed religious and seminarians as part of his papal visit to the Philippines.

Manila's first cathedral was destroyed by fire in the sixteenth century, while the next five were either partially damaged or destroyed by earthquakes, Cardinal Tagle explained. An 1863 quake buried the members of the cathedral chapter, the choir and the lay faithful.

The seventh cathedral was "mercilessly bombed" during the liberation of the Philippines from Japanese occupation in 1945.

Cardinal Tagle credited the Filipinos' resilience to their music and faith.

"Our melodies make our spirits soar above the tragedies of life," he said. "Our faith makes us stand up again and again after deadly fires, earthquakes, typhoons and wars."

The Philippines has again suffered deadly typhoons and earthquakes in recent years.

"We are filled with joy for you are with us," Cardinal Tagle told Pope Francis. "You bring fire not to destroy, but to purify. You bring an earthquake not to shatter, but to awaken. You bring weapons, not to kill, but to assure."

"Indeed," the cardinal said, citing the Gospel of Matthew, "you are Peter, the Rock upon which Jesus builds His Church."

"You are Peter, who comes 'to strengthen your brothers and sisters in faith."

"We welcome you, successor of Peter, to this blessed land of untiring hope, of infinite music and of joyful faith," Cardinal Tagle said. "With your visit, we know Jesus will renew and rebuild His Church in the Philippines."

Pope Francis in his homily at the Mass said Filipino culture has been "shaped by the imagination of faith." He praised Filipinos' love of God and their devotion to the Virgin Mary, saying that their "great heritage" has "a powerful missionary potential."

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