MANILA, July 13, 2015— Pope Francis will not attend the forthcoming 51st International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) to be held in Cebu City January next year, the head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines said Monday.
But Archbishop Socrates Villegas, CBCP president, said the Vatican will send an envoy on behalf of the Pope.
“He is not coming. That’s sure already,” Villegas said, while admitting there was no direct message from the Vatican yet regarding the matter.
It will be recalled that the Archdiocese of Cebu made a number of adjustments to accommodate the Pope’s schedule in 2016.
This include the changing of the proposed date of the IEC which was originally scheduled in June.
Villegas ruled out another papal visit to the Philippines since the Vatican has hinted that an envoy will arrive instead.
He also stressed the significance of the Pontiff’s sending of an official representative in his stead.
“’The sending of a papal envoy [is like saying] ‘I’m there with you,” he said.
The re-elected CBCP chief said they understand the Pope’s decision since he also needs to visit other countries.
“Let us give other countries the chance to see him. Because if we insist, it’s as if we’re being selfish because it will lessen his opportunities to visit other countries,” Villegas said in Filipino.
The huge event is set on Jan. 24 to 31 and is expected to draw 15,000 pilgrims from all over the world.
The Philippines first hosted one of the most remarkable church events in 1937 when the 33rd IEC was held in Manila. (Roy Lagarde/CBCPNews)