Photos: Pope Francis Gets Celebrity Welcome in Asia

The pope took an unexpected detour to spend time with homeless, poor and mentally ill children.
Photos: Pope Francis Gets Celebrity Welcome in Asia Pool photo by Osservatore Romano/AP

Updated | Pope Francis landed in Manila late Thursday to kick off the second leg of his one-week visit to Asia. The pope is to spend five days in the Philippines, where more than 80 percent of the population identifies as Catholic.

As Francis left Villamor Air Base, the streets were lined with ecstatic, cheering crowds numbering in the hundreds of thousands.

On Friday morning, the pontiff celebrated Mass at the Cathedral of Manila, considered the most important Catholic church in the Philippines. The Cathedral, which had been closed for repairs since 2012, reopened in 2014. It seats 2,000 and the pope's Mass was by invitation only. He defended the church's stance against contraception.

Afterward, instead of exiting from the front of the Cathedral as is customary, Francis took a side door and made an unscheduled detour to the office of a foundation for homeless children, children with mental illness and children from slum areas. Francis spent more than half an hour with the children, who entertained him with songs and dances, according to a Vatican spokesman.

On Saturday, Francis will depart Manila for Tacloban, where he will have lunch with survivors of Typhoon Yolanda. He will also meet with various other groups.

Correction: This article originally incorrectly stated that the Pope's visit was for two weeks. It was for one week.

In Manila on on January 16, Pope Francis sits with some of the children being helped by the Anak-Tnk Foundation, which was founded in 1998 by a Jesuit priest to aid homeless children and those living in the Philippines city's slums. Pool photo by Osservatore Romano/AP