MANILA, Dec. 4, 2014— The head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on Wednesday has denied that Malacañang is compelling the Church to cancel Pope Francis’ visit to Leyte.
Archbishop Socrates Villegas, CBCP President, said the Church hierarchy was never under pressure to change the Pope’s itinerary.
“There was no such pressure,” Villegas said in a text message to reporters.
Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez claimed Malacañang tried to have the pontiff’s itinerary include a visit to Cebu instead of Leyte. Romualdez is the nephew of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos’ wife Imelda.
Pope Francis will visit typhoon Yolanda survivors in Tacloban City and Palo, Leyte on Jan. 17.
Upon his arrival at the Tacloban airport, the Pope will lead the Mass at the new 30,000-square-meter apron.
After the Mass, the pontiff will have lunch with some victims of calamities last year at the archbishop’s residence in Palo.
In the afternoon, he will bless the Pope Francis Center for the Poor, also located inside the archbishop’s residence compound.
The Pope will also meet with priests and the religious of the archdiocese before flying back to Manila on the same day. (CBCPNews)