CEBU CITY, Cebu – There is a big chance that Pope Francis will visit the country in 2016, Canon lawyer Msgr. Esteban Binghay, who is also the Episcopal Vicar of the Archdiocese of Cebu, said yesterday.
Binghay shared this possibility as the Philippines, specifically Cebu, will host the next International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) in 2016, which was announced by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI at the closing ceremony of the 50th IEC in Dublin, Ireland, last year through a video presentation as he could no longer endure long travels.
IEC is a gathering of clergy, religious, and laity to bear witness to the real presence of Jesus in the eucharist, which is an important Roman Catholic doctrine.
“The possibility is there because the Philippines is the only Catholic country in the Far East,” Binghay said.
He added that since the new Pope came from a rich country in the Latin America, with 42 percent Catholic population, he might consider visiting the Philippines that is 90 percent Catholic.
Given the good health condition of the new Pope the chances are there, he said.
However, Binghay revealed that there are instances that the Pope can not attend such event and only sends ambassadors.
Meanwhile, Binghay shared that he was very happy when he knew that a new Pope has already been chosen, “I was just right on time, when I switched on the television the first thing I saw was the white smoke coming out of the Vatican chimney.”
Although, he has not seen the new Pope in person, Binghay is certain that Pope Francis can very well lead the Church citing that Jesuits are known for their “wisdom.”
Pope Francis is both the first Jesuit priest and the first native of the Americas to be elected Pope. He is also the first non-European pope since Syrian-born Pope Gregory III, who died in 741.
Binghay pointed out that Jesuits are known for their consistent and aggressive stand and they are the great defenders of the Holy Father based on history.
Meanwhile, Malacañang has extended its congratulations to Pope Francis and urged him to be the voice for peace, justice, and charity around the world.
Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda hailed the “joyful news” about the assumption of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio from Argentina as the first Latin American pope, adding that the administration looks forward to cooperation with the Holy See.
“The President, along with the Filipino people, joins all the Catholic faithful as they receive their new leader and meet his proclamation with a sense of boundless promise. As the first pope from outside Europe in a millennium – the first pope from the Society of Jesus, and the first from Latin America – the election of Pope Francis brings with it the promise of renewal in the Catholic Church, as it strives to fulfill its mission here on earth,” Lacierda said.
“Pope Francis reminds us that serving our fellowmen is a duty not only of the Church, but of all Catholics,” said Vice President Jejomar C. Binay.
The Vice President joined the Catholic faithful in welcoming His Holiness Pope Francis as the new leader of the Catholic Church.
“Just like his namesake, Pope Francis has shown affinity with the poor, both preaching and practicing compassion for our less fortunate brothers and sisters,” said Binay.
Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), welcomed the election of Pope Francis and urged the faithful to give their support and allegiance to the new pontiff.
“We are very happy that we have a new Pope. Just like everyone, we accept the surprise that he is not a European,” Palma said.
“Like all Christians, we are invited to give our full trust in him because he was one chosen by the Holy Spirit through the voting cardinals. Let us give our allegiance and be united with in whatever programs he wants to push,” he added. (With reports from Genalyn D. Kabiling, JC Bello Ruiz, and Leslie Ann G. Aquino)