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Timor-Leste all set for papal visit in September

An 87-year-old Pope Francis is undertaking the longest overseas trip in his 11-year papacy
Pope Francis waves to people in this undated image.

Pope Francis waves to people in this undated image. (Photo: AFP)

Published: April 15, 2024 12:08 PM GMT
Updated: April 15, 2024 12:11 PM GMT

Catholic-majority Timor-Leste is gearing up for the papal visit along with three Asian nations in September as Pope Francis makes his first overseas visit of the year and the longest in his 11-year papacy.

Salesian Cardinal Virgílio do Carmo da Silva of Dili said, “This visit will be a historic event for the people of Timor who long for the presence of the Holy Father Francis in this blessed land, where simple people live out their faith in Christ Jesus with originality.”

“Today, we are pleased to thank you for the confirmation of your arrival in Timor-Leste,” he said in a statement two days after the Vatican’s confirmation on April 12.

According to the Vatican, the 87-year-old Francis will visit the tiny Southeast Asian nation where Catholics make up 96 percent of its 1.3 million people, from Sept. 9 to 11.

"As a sign of our gratitude and love for the Holy Father, the church preparation team worked tirelessly, together with the apostolic nunciature, to make the visit a success," the cardinal added.

In his 11th year of papacy, the pope is seen as fragile and has skipped many engagements due to health issues. His last trip was to Marseille, France, in September. But in November, he did not make it to the COP28 climate conference in Dubai due to a lung inflammation.

The papal itinerary includes Muslim-majority Indonesia, Singapore, and Papua New Guinea.

The cardinal also thanked President Jose Ramos Horta and the government "for the excellent cooperation in logistical preparations.”

The government has set aside US$12 million for the preparation.

“Let us welcome our greatest leader with great joy and consecrate Timor-Leste as a land of human fraternity,” President Ramos-Horta said in a statement.

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate asked people to create all possible conditions to make the visit smooth.

The papal visit to Timor-Leste was slated for 2020. But was postponed due to the pandemic.

In neighboring Indonesia, the Catholic Bishops' Conference has announced a committee, chaired by former minister of transportation Ignasius Jonan to oversee the visit.

Indonesia will be the pope’s first destination, before heading to Papua New Guinea and Timor-Leste.

Singapore is the latest before he goes back to the Vatican on Sept.13.

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Bem vindo Papa Francisco.
Asian Bishops
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