MANILA, June 24, 2014— Pope Francis will set foot on Philippine soil for the first time on January 15 next year, according to a Catholic news report.
It will be a single trip to the Philippines and Sri Lanka where he will first arrive on January 13, the coordinator of Sri Lankan migrants in Italy confirmed.
In a recent interview with the Catholic News Agency, Monsignor Nevin Perera revealed that after the 2-day visit to Sri Lanka, the pontiff will leave for Manila on the morning of January 15.
The Vatican has not yet formally announced the dates and specific itinerary that the pope will observe in the Philippines.
Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle said one of the purposes of the papal visit is to “come close to the people” who suffered from typhoon ‘Yolanda’ in November 2013 and the magnitude 7.2 earthquake in October 2013.
The Vatican considers Asia as a continent of growth for Catholicism. In 2012, Vatican’s data revealed that Catholicism in Asia is growing faster than in any other region of the world.
The pope is also travelling to Korea from August 14 to August 18 this year in what would be his first visit the Asian continent for the 6th Asian Youth Day in the diocese of Daejeon.
Palo Archbishop John Du earlier said typhoon survivors in Leyte await the pope’s visit and anticipate eagerly what is expected to be a historic visit early next year.
“The pope’s visit is another big blessing. We are happy for the blessing that come to us– the pope is coming, the people’s solidarity and the overwhelming generosity of the people,” Du said.
He said the papal visit would certainly boost the morale of ‘Yolanda’ survivors, especially those who are still struggling to rebuild their lives. (Roy Lagarde)