Millions celebrate mass with Pope
Manila (AFP) - Pope Francis drew a record six million people as he celebrated mass in the rain-swept Philippine capital Sunday, a triumphant finale to an Asian tour in which he championed the plight of the poor.
The pope said the main reason for visiting the Philippines was to meet survivors of Super Typhoon Haiyan, the strongest storm ever recorded on land which claimed more than 7,350 lives in November 2013.
He flew on Saturday morning from Manila to Leyte island, ground zero for the typhoon, and celebrated a deeply emotional mass with 200,000 survivors.
"Long live the pope!" the crowd chanted before the mass.
Francis had planned to spend a full day in communities where homes were flattened by monster winds and tsunami-like ocean surges, but was forced to return to Manila to avoid another tropical storm.
Still, he was deeply moved by his truncated time in the typhoon areas and felt privileged to have made the trip, Cardinal Tagle told reporters.
The pope's tour, which also took him to Sri Lanka, was his second trip to Asia in five months, in a nod to the region's growing importance for the Church as it faces declining support in Europe and the United States.
It was also the fourth papal visit to the Philippines, and the rapturous reception given to him throughout his stay cemented the nation's status as the Church's Asian role model.
The pope will fly back to Rome on Monday morning