Philippine church and government leaders are preparing the country for Pope Francis' visit with spiritual guidance for the faithful and precautions about crowd control.
Hundreds of people who gathered at a public square here for a rally against the death penalty lit candles and joined in singing "Heal the World" to close a historic dialogue on human rights and respect for the dignity of life.
It may have ended months of work for the first Asia Pacific dialogue on the theme "No Justice without Life." But Mayor Benjamin Abalos Jr. and other speakers pointed out that much work remains for Filipinos to foster dialogue on the death penalty and ensure that the country's laws do not again allow executions.
Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle said the synod was more than divorce and gay unions -- the impact of poverty was a major concern.
The church must widen its reach to gays and divorced Catholics, said the president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines.
Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, in an Oct. 21 statement after the Synod of Bishops on the family, called for a merciful approach to ministering to the faithful by emulating Christ and not casting stones at sinners.
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The separation of married couples is a huge issue in the Philippines and other parts of Asia, not because of divorce but because poverty pushes couples to separate in search of jobs abroad, said Filipino Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila.
While he hopes the pastoral care of divorced and civilly remarried couples is debated openly and with good will, he said he also hopes members of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops give appropriate consideration to the impact of poverty and migration on families and to a host of other issues that help or hinder family life.
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Catholic aid agencies were involved in efforts to help people who were flooded out of their homes by a tropical storm in the northern Philippines.
A downpour inundated Manila and surrounding communities for 24 hours starting Thursday evening. Forecasters expected that the heavy rain would continue through Saturday.
Emergency response officials said 25 percent of the capital region was under water and nearly 500,000 people were affected by the twin impact of Tropical Storm Fung-Wong and late-summer monsoons.