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Vatican signals possible papal visit to Philippines

Request made for change of 2016 congress date

Vatican signals possible papal visit to Philippines

Pope Francis waves during his weekly audience in St Peter's Square at the Vatican (Filippo Monteforte/AFP) reporter, Manila

May 23, 2013

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Pope Francis is likely to visit the Philippines in early 2016 to attend the International Eucharistic Congress in Cebu City, the head of the country’s bishops' conference said yesterday.

Archbishop Jose Palma says he received a request from the Vatican to move the Congress, scheduled for May 2016, to an earlier date in January that year. The letter said that the pope had prior engagements for May.

"We told them that January is fine because our suggestion was to make the pope’s visit to the Philippines a priority,” said Palma, who is also president of the Pontifical Committee on the International Eucharistic Congress. "We know that the pope continues to inspire us and his visit will have an enormous impact on our faith and our Christian life."

The retired Archbishop of Manila, Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, earlier said he believed the pope will visit the country in 2016. Rosales was one of the three Filipino cardinals who flew to the Vatican for the papal conclave following the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI in February.

Pope John Paul II visited the Philippines twice. His first visit was in 1981 for the beatification of Lorenzo Ruiz. His visit purportedly convinced then President Marcos to lift martial law.

In 1995, Pope John Paul II visited the Philippines for the World Youth Day festival.

The 51st International Eucharistic Congress in 2016 will carry on the theme “Christ in You: Our Hope of Glory.”

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