Vatican confirms dates for pope's Philippines visit
Details emerge of five-day itinerary
Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle said the pope will visit victims of Typoon Haiyan and young people in Manila (photo by Roy Lagarde)
The Vatican on Tuesday confirmed dates for Pope Francis’ second visit to Asia schedueld for January to Sri Lanka and Philippines, the first visit by a pontiff to the two countries in 20 years.
Following an announcement last month that the pope will visit Sri Lanka from January 12 to 15, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle in Manila confirmed in a Vatican statement that the pontiff would then head to the Philippines until January 19.
“Now he’s coming to the Philippines. Wow,” said Tagle. “I’m sure that desire of the heart will push him to get in contact with the people.”
The pope is expected to visit the central Philippines where Typhoon Haiyan killed at least 6,300 people in November. More than 6,000 people are still living in tents in Tacloban City, Save the Children reported earlier this month
“Nobody could deny the effect of [Haiyan], so the Holy Father said plainly that he was one with the suffering people, that we should not be afraid to ask God why,” said Tagle.
Last month, the cardinal said the trip might also include a visit to Palo Cathedral in the central province of Leyte which lost its roof but otherwise remained intact following the typhoon.
Cardinal Tagle and others speak to the press on Wednesday to confirm Pope Francis' visit to the Philippines (video by ucanews.com)
The pope is also scheduled to visit a youth rally at the Catholic University of Santo Tomas (UST) in Manila.
"UST has always figured as one of the sites especially for the pope's interaction with the youth and students, so we are coming from that historical datum," Cardinal Tagle said in an interview.
It will be the fourth visit by a pope to Santo Tomas, which was established by the Dominicans in 1611 and declared a pontifical university in 1902: Pope Paul VI visited in 1970 and Pope John Paul II made two trips there in 1981 and 1995.
The finalized schedule for Francis’ five-day visit to the Philippines would be confirmed by the end of the year, Tagle said on Tuesday, as President Benigno Aquino’s office announced full government cooperation.
“Filipinos will most certainly accord to Pope Francis the warmth of their hospitality and manifest the fervor of their faith as they welcome the first pontiff from South America,” presidential spokesman Herminio Coloma said in a statement issued from Aquino’s office on Tuesday.
The pope’s landmark visit to the Philippines coincides with the 20th anniversary of the World Youth Day celebration in Manila led by Saint John Paul II on January 14, 1995, the last papal visit to Asia’s most populous majority Catholic nation.
The day after World Youth Day in 1995, John Paul II offered Mass to a crowd estimated at between four and five million people in Manila’s Luneta Park, the biggest papal crowd ever.
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