Pope Francis returns to Asia this week, where crises are priming the ground for the kind of church he is working to grow.
This is the Philippines, where "the Christian story and Christian symbols have played a very important role in everyday life."
Catholic and other humanitarian agencies prepared for another potentially devastating storm in the central Philippines as Typhoon Hagupit continued to gain strength and approached the same region devastated 13 months ago.
Philippine church and government leaders are preparing the country for Pope Francis' visit with spiritual guidance for the faithful and precautions about crowd control.
Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle said the synod was more than divorce and gay unions -- the impact of poverty was a major concern.
The church must widen its reach to gays and divorced Catholics, said the president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines.
Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, in an Oct. 21 statement after the Synod of Bishops on the family, called for a merciful approach to ministering to the faithful by emulating Christ and not casting stones at sinners.
Catholic aid agencies were involved in efforts to help people who were flooded out of their homes by a tropical storm in the northern Philippines.
A downpour inundated Manila and surrounding communities for 24 hours starting Thursday evening. Forecasters expected that the heavy rain would continue through Saturday.
Emergency response officials said 25 percent of the capital region was under water and nearly 500,000 people were affected by the twin impact of Tropical Storm Fung-Wong and late-summer monsoons.
Thousands rally at signature drive for a petition to eliminate lump-sum budgeting that prevents transparency in government spending and diverts money from the poor.
"People who are exposed to this virus will feel they are accompanied, that the church suffers with them, the church works for them."
Pope Francis will visit Sri Lanka from Jan. 12-15, then spend Jan. 15-19 in the Philippines, the Vatican and Philippines bishops announced Tuesday.