Pope Manila Mass draws record crowd of millions
Pope Francis concluded his trip to Asia on Sunday with an open-air Mass for a rain-drenched crowd in Manila that the Vatican and the Government said drew up to seven million people, the largest ever for a papal event. “The official number that has been given to us is between six and seven million,” Vatican spokesman- Father Federico Lombardi told journalists at a press conference in Manila on Sunday, calling it the "largest event of the history of the Popes."
In his homily for the Closing Mass on January 18 in the Philippines, Pope Francis pointed to our identity as God’s children, calling for the protection of the family against the numerous attacks that threaten it. “Sadly, in our day, the family all too 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 noble in our culture.”
Pope Francis spoke to millions of Filipinos gathered at Rizal Park in Manila at the final public event during his trip to the country. The Mass marked the largest papal event in history, surpassing the 1995 World Youth Day in Manila with Saint John Paul II, which drew 4 to 5 million people.
Huge crowds have turned out for the Pope's Masses and public events in the Philippines, where 86 percent of the population identifies as Catholic. In recent years, the island country has struggled with the effects of several typhoons, earthquakes and other natural disasters.
During his apostolic visit, the Pope deviated from both his official schedule and prepared speeches and meeting with impoverished children from the streets and going off-the-cuff in remarks to families on the dangers of contraception and redefining marriage. Pope Francis will return to Rome on January 19 following a closing ceremony in Manila.
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