Pope Francis’s 2015 visit confirmed
Pope Francis will visit the Philippines from January 15 to 19, 2015.
Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle officially announced the schedule of the pontiff’s visit in a press briefing yesterday at the Arzobispado de Manila in Intramuros.
“Accepting the invitation of the civil authority and the bishops, His Holiness Pope Francis will make an apostolic visit to Sri Lanka from January 12 to 15 and to the Philippines from January 15 to 19, 2015,” he said.
The visit of the Holy Father to the Philippines was formally announced simultaneously in Rome and in Manila yesterday.
President Aquino immediately called on all government agencies and all Filipinos to help ensure the successful visit of Pope Francis in the Philippines. He designated Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. as the government’s point person for the Jan. 15-19 visit of the Pope, Presidential Communications Operations Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said
The news was officially released by the Papal Nuncio to the Philippines Archbishop Guiseppe Pinto and announced by Cardinal Tagle to the media yesterday.
Tagle, however, said the program of the visit will only be made public by the Holy Father later this year.
The pontiff had earlier revealed his plan to visit the Philippines, particularly the victims of super-typhoon “Yolanda” in Eastern Visayas.
Coloma, who was at the press conference, welcomed the news of the pontiff’s upcoming visit, noting that it will mark the 20th anniversary of the World Youth Day in the country in 1995.
“The government joins the Filipino people in welcoming the Vatican’s announcement confirming that His Holiness Pope Francis will make an apostolic visit to the Philippines… Pope Francis’ visit marks the 20th anniversary of the celebration of World Youth Day Manila that was presided over by now St. John Paul II. Filipinos will most certainly afford to Pope Francis the warmth of their hospitality and manifest the fervor of their faith as they welcome the first pontiff from South America,” he said.
Earlier this month, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) asked the faithful to spiritually prepare for the papal visit.
Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, CBCP president, said the most distinctive way to prepare spiritually for the coming of Pope Francis is for the country to become “a people rich in mercy.”
“Let us make mercy our national identity. Trust in God’s mercy is part and parcel of our traditional Filipino Christian culture. Let us make the practice of mercy our gift to the pope when he comes to visit us,” he said at that time.
“He comes to confirm us in our faith as we face the challenges of witnessing the Joy of the Gospel in the midst of our trials. This is an eloquent way of showing mercy and compassion,” Villegas said.
The bishops also encouraged Filipinos to resolve to make an act of mercy everyday such as giving food to the hungry, helping build homes for the typhoon victims, visiting the prisoners, or the charity ward of hospitals, drug rehabilitation centers, homes for the elderly and orphanages.
Pope Francis will be the third pontiff to visit the Philippines after Pope Paul VI in 1970 and Pope John Paul II in 1981 and 1995. (With a report from Genalyn D. Kabiling)