The Catholic Church is some 2000 years old – and counting – from the blessed birth and redeeming ministry of Christ until He had to go back to the Father and thus entrusted the Church He founded to Peter as His first successor. The successors of Peter – the Popes – then came one after another in the course of time, one decade, one century after another. The Church then progressively had affiliate members from one part of the world to another – until her living and operative existence became global in reach and coverage. This is precisely why there is now a Universal Church having members from peoples of all races, colors and languages.
In other words, the Catholic Church is but one in nature and constitution although global in presence, reach and extent. The Catholics are spread in all the continents of the world. They are in different Countries with different cultures and traditions. Yet, they remain one in faith with its pursuant religious observances or practices. For example, Christmas – the commemoration of the birth of Christ – is celebrated by Catholics in all continents of the world on the same day of 25 December but according to the rising and setting of the sun in their respective places and abodes in the far corners of the world.
So it is that the Catholic Church is truly Universal. Universal in the sense of having members from all over the globe. Universal in the sense of people the world over subscribing to the same Scriptures, professing the same Creed, receiving the same Sacraments. Universal in the sense that it has one and the same rather simple and clear structural composition, viz., all Catholic lay people are under the pastoral care of priests, all priests are under the superior administrative authority of their respective Bishops, all Bishops in turn are under the supreme administrative supervision of the Pope – who wherefore is the Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church.
So it is that given his many supervisory obligations imposed upon him by his different papal tasks in favor of Catholics the world over, the coming of the Pope to a given Country like the Philippines, to a given people like the Filipinos, to a specially selected place like the Visayas – is definitely something quite rare and extraordinary, something to look forward to and to prepare for. How? Through prayers, prayers and more prayers for the spiritual preparation of the people, the needed blessing of the place, the actualization of the intended extraordinary apostolic visit.