MANILA, Philippines (AP) -
Pope Francis has been telling the faithful in the Philippines that people should see "each child as a gift to be welcomed, cherished and protected."
In the final stop of his Asia pilgrimage, Francis dedicated his homily to children, with the Mass falling on an important feast day honoring the infant Jesus. He told a massive crowd filling Manila's biggest park not to allow children to be "robbed of hope and condemned to life on the streets."
The pope ditched his prepared remarks and spoke off the cuff in his native Spanish to respond to a former street child rescued by a church-run foundation. Twelve-year-old Glyzelle Palomar wept as she asked Francis why children suffer so much.
A visibly moved Francis said he had no answer, but said: "Only when we are able to cry are we able to come close to responding to your question."
The pope's trip was a reflection of the importance that the Vatican places on Asia as the future of the church since it's one of the few places where Catholic numbers are growing.
Officials estimate a record 6 million people poured into Manila's rain-soaked streets and its biggest park today for the Mass.
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