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Pope asks nuncio to spend Christmas with typhoon victims

Archbishop Guiseppe Pinto to travel to southern Philippines

Pope asks nuncio to spend Christmas with typhoon victims

Residents of Basey town in Samar prepare an altar inside a devastated Catholic chapel for the celebration of Mass (Vincent Go)

Joe Torres and reporters, Manila

December 23, 2013

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Pope Francis has instructed the papal nuncio to the Philippines to spend Christmas with victims of Super Typhoon Haiyan, which struck the country last month and left some four million people destitute.

Archbishop Guiseppe Pinto has been asked to travel to the worst-hit area of Leyte. Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu said there were concerns about where Pinto would stay whilst there, although Pinto reportedly said he would “sleep in a tent”.

Pinto is scheduled to attend a gathering of members of religious congregations on December 24 and will celebrate Christmas Mass at Palo cathedral in Leyte in the evening.

On Christmas Day, the nuncio will also say Mass in Tacloban City and will lead gift-giving activities before returning to Manila.

"These are the ways we can help," Palma said. "They may not be really big, but I thought it’s enough to make the people feel that they are not alone."

The Philippines has been beset by natural disasters and conflict this year. Around 100,000 people were displaced in the southern city of Zamboanga in September when rebels attacked the predominantly Christian enclave.

In October, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit the province of Bohol resulting in the destruction of more than 73,000 buildings and the deaths of hundreds of people.

A month later, on November 8, Super Typhoon Haiyan hit the central Philippine provinces of Samar and Leyte, resulting in the devastation of cities and villages and the deaths of more than 6,000 people.

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