Pope Francis announces visit to Philippines and Sri Lanka
Trip confirmed for January 2015, he tells reporters
Pope Francis with cardinals including Cardinals Quevedo and Tagle. (File photo: news.va)
For the first time in nearly two decades, the head of the Catholic Church will set foot in the Philippines after Pope Francis confirmed he plans to visit the Southeast Asian country in January 2015.
Francis said this in a media conference on Monday, May 26, on a flight back to Rome after his Holy Land trip, according to the Catholic News Service (CNS).
He will also visit Sri Lanka, Francis said.
The whole trip [to the Philippines] will last for two days, the Associated Press reported, as the Pope didn't provide more details.
Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle said the Pope – who stresses the need to reach out to the world's “peripheries” – wants to visit areas hit by disasters such as Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) and the magnitude-7.2 earthquake in the Visayas.
“I think one purpose of the visit of the Holy Father is to come close to the people who suffered from the recent typhoon and the earthquake,” Tagle said in an interview with CNS.
“We will see how that could be done. But he, I think, would want that to be a defining character of his trip,” Tagle said in the interview while he was in the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC.
“I have said his coming will be stronger than the typhoon, but in a positive way,” Tagle added.
Francis has long said he wants to visit the Philippines, which is Asia's most predominantly Catholic country.
Once calling this Southeast Asian country his "beloved Philippines," Francis sent a video message to Filipinos in October 2013 – his first papal message in English.
“Don’t get tired of bringing the mercy of the Father to the poor, the sick, the abandoned, the young people, and the family,” Francis said in his video message for the Philippine Conference on New Evangelization at the University of Santo Tomas.
Shortly after he was elected Pope, Francis told Tagle he has "high hopes for the Philippines."
The last time a Pope visited the Philippines was in 1995, when the late John Paul II led World Youth Day in Manila.
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