Will the Philippines see Pope Francis Soon?
Vatican announced Wednesday that Pope Francis may visit South Korea next summer as part of his Asian trip. The report has renewed hopes that the pope may also include the Philippines in his itinerary.
Spokesman Federico Lombardi said ‘I can confirm that a trip to South Korea [which could take place towards mid-August 2015] is being considered. The pope has been invited by the authorities there.’
The pope has already expressed a desire to visit Asia because his predecessor Benedict XVI had never been to the continent.
Invitations from Sri Lanka and the Philippines have led to speculations that the pope may also include the countries in this Asian trip. The last time a pope visited the Philippines was in 1995, when Pope John Paul II celebrated World Youth Day in Manila.
Two retired cardinals have already sent their invitations to the pope last year. Manila archbishop emeritus Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales and retired Cebu archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal have both invited the pope during last March’s audience with the world’s cardinals.
Vice president Jejomar Binay has also extended an invitation to the pope around that time. All have reported that the pope had expressed openness to the invitation, and that he will consider visiting during the 51st International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) on 2016 in Cebu. In May last year, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) was optimistic this visit will push through as the Vatican requested them to move the IEC to an earlier date.
Vatican spokesman Ciro Benedettini however clarified that ‘A trip to Asia is under consideration but nothing is yet fixed or certain.’ The only confirmed trip in the pope’s 2014 programme is a visit to Holy Land in May which includes Amman, Bethlehem and Jerusalem.