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Cardinal Tagle appeals for prayers as major storm strikes the Philippines

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila (AP)

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle urged Catholics in the Philippines to pray for safety and forgiveness for not taking care of the environment ahead of a powerful typhoon which is now sweeping across the country.

In issuing the “oratio imperata” (obligatory prayer) on December 5, Cardinal Tagle also told the faithful to brace for Typhoon Hagupit without panicking and by monitoring government warnings and advisory messages.

He also said they should prepare with prayer. “Let us humble ourselves and seek the mercy and compassion of God at this time of impending peril and destruction,” he wrote in a statement.

Philippine forecasters said Hagupit would have maximum sustained winds of 133 miles per hour and gusts reaching 155. Their predictions included storm surges topping 13 feet. Officials said thousands had so far evacuated from coastal areas.

Last year Typhoon Haiyan was the strongest cyclone on record. It brought 195-mph winds to the central Philippines and churned out 15-foot storm surges, leaving more than 7,300 dead or missing and destroying 1.1 million houses.

Pope Francis will visit the Philippines on January 15-19.