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By Evelyn Macairan (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 21, 2014 - 12:00am
 
 
MANILA, Philippines - Persons with disabilities (PWDs) and poor people will have the privilege to sit near Pope Francis when he says Mass at the Quirino Grandstand on Jan. 18.

Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) secretary general Fr. Marvin Mejia said each of the 86 dioceses of the Catholic Church would be sending five PWDs or representatives from the poor and 20 priests.

PWDs and poor people will be given special identification cards for the mass and will be allowed to get near Pope Francis.

“We are trying to ask the 86 archdioceses and dioceses to send five from their local jurisdiction and to provide logistics for these people so they can join the mass at the Rizal Park,” Mejia said.

Mejia also said the CBCP has been quietly soliciting donations from members of the church laity to help the church pay for the accommodations of the papal entourage and the Asian bishops who would be flying to the country for the papal visit.

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A committee is taking charge of accommodations for the papal entourage and the Asian bishops.

“Basically it is the church (that would shoulder) but there is no fund raising. (It is) very challenging,” Mejia admitted.

“Even the bishops are donating from their own pockets, from their own personal account, not from the dioceses because there is no fund raising in the dioceses. The finance committee is coming up with the list of what is needed,” he explained.

Radio Veritas president Fr. Anton Pascual called on people, groups and institutions to also donate for the papal visit.

But he clarified that despite the request for donations, the CBCP is mindful of the appeal of the Vatican to keep expenses to a minimum.

A source in the Catholic Church said that they are hoping to limit their expenses for the papal visit to P70 million.

“What the pope wants is that we would donate to the victims of calamities, that is the primary purpose of his visit. He wanted that whatever blessings he receives in terms of donation would be given to the victims of calamities, especially to the victims of Typhoon Yolanda and survivors of the earthquake in Bohol,” Pascual said.

Donors will be given a “Papal Visit 2015 Commemorative Official Receipt” by the Archdiocese of Manila.



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