Dear Pope Francis,
While the odds that my letter would actually reach you are quite slim, I am hoping and praying that it would find you well in case it ever would.
Thank you, Pope Francis. Thank you for coming to visit us, to inspire us, and to enlighten us. I know that all you ever wanted was to let us know that you are weeping with us as we suffer from the burdens that have dawned upon our land after Typhoon Yolanda hit. But your presence did so much more. You touched even the deepest and darkest corners of our troubled hearts. I am lucky not to be gravely affected by the typhoon, I wasn’t able to welcome you and bid you goodbye, I never heard your mass in person, I was never near you. The only obvious connection we had when you came was through the mass media (though we saw your plane quickly go by from where we live both when you landed and when you left, and for that we already felt greatly blessed). Yet, what’s most important is that I’ve heard you. And hearing you, knowing you, and watching you undeniably made me feel strongly connected to you.
Your words were comforting. You let us know that we are not suffering alone, that you are with us as we face our lives’ strongest storms- not only storms that shatter homes but also storms that break the spirit. Your words were truthful. You never blinded us with false promises of things getting better or assurances that our suffering will soon make sense. Instead, when asked by a little girl why God lets these bad things happen, you just hugged her tightly and said that you do not know. You said that you cannot tell us why we suffer and that we should only look to God for answers. Your words were moving. Because you genuinely and unconditionally love, everything you say touches the heart deeply. Your words were powerful. They can and do change the world.
Yet even without words, you remain as inspiring and as charismatic. You never fail to surprise the world with your humility, simplicity, and good nature. You associate yourself with the common people. You reach out to the poor, to the minority, to the suffering, to the sick, to the least. You are not afraid to admit the mistakes of the Church. And you are not afraid to make right what has always been wrong. You have an open mind. You are willing to shake things up if it means everything will get better. Your compassion extends so far and wide that it knows no race, sexuality, religion or even lack of it. You respect all people. Your bright smile can cure an ailing soul.
Truly, you are God’s gift to all men. You came right when the world needed you most, when it was desperate to have someone who isn’t afraid to be true in this place where everyone wears masks, someone who came not to be served but to serve, someone who came not to take but to give, someone who can make me believe that the world is still a beautiful place despite everything and that people are truly good at heart.
Thank you, Pope Francis. Maybe you haven’t changed my life. But you’ve opened my mind, you’ve touched my heart, and you’ve refreshed my soul. And to me, it means everything. We will continue to pray with you and for you. Viva il Papa!