MANILA — Catholic leader Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle on Monday urged the public to display their faith through the 9-day Christmas novena Mass after another earthquake cracked buildings and left at least 2 dead in Mindanao.
"Ipapamalas ng sambayanan na kahit sa lindol, may pananampalataya. At iyon po ang diwa ng Simbang Gabi: pananampalataya. Nananalig tayo at naniniwala na mayroong darating na Jesus, ang Diyos na magliligtas," he told churchgoers.
(The nation will show that despite the quake, we have faith. That is the essence of Simbang Gabi: faith. We keep faith and believe that Jesus, the lord will come to save us.)
On Sunday, patients were evacuated from hospitals as a precaution and nervous crowds massed outside shopping malls after a magnitude 6.9 tremor, which struck south of the major city of Davao. The quake also spawned hundreds of aftershocks.
A priest from the Diocese of Digos, Davao del Sur was injured when the quake hit while he was visiting a far-flung community, said Tagle, who led a Christmas pre-dawn Mass at the Manila Cathedral.
The Simbang Gabi honors the Virgin Mary's conception of Christ. Many Catholics believe completing the 9 masses will make their Christmas wishes will come true.
"Walang masama na mag-wish pero sana bukod doon mag-attend ng misa dahil mahal natin ang Panginoon," said Rev. Fr. Daniel Allan Samonte of the St. Peter Parish in Quezon City.
(There is nothing wrong with wishing, but aside from that, I hope the public will attend Mass because we love the Lord.)
Meanwhile, Tagle urged the public to refrain from spreading "fake news," saying Christ was crucified due to false information.
Tagle, 62, is set to leave the Archdiocese of Manila early next year to formally head the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, an important Vatican office expected to be restructured soon into the more powerful Dicastery for Evangelization.
During a Christmas Mass last year, Tagle asked those in power not to use their position to bully others.
While Tagle did not mention any political leader, the Catholic Church has been the subject of President Rodrigo Duterte's repeated tirades, after some clergy members criticized his anti-narcotics crackdown and policies against criminality.
- With reports from Kevin Manalo and Jervis Manahan, ABS-CBN News