Sorry Cebu, but the Pope will NOT be visiting us for the International Eucharistic Congress in January of 2016. Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas himself, president of The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), confirmed the news. In his place, Pope Francis will be sending a representative or otherwise known as a papal legate.
“It is certain that Pope Francis is not coming to the country for the IEC. He will just send a papal legate, a papal envoy,” explained Archbishop Villegas. He reassures that it doesn’t change things much though, that having a papal legate is as good as having the Holy Father, “While he (Pope Francis) did not say that he is coming, but sending a papal legate is almost saying that ‘I will be there’. That is important because he said he will send an envoy,”
The archbishop said it’s only reasonable for the pope to not attend the event since he already came to the Philippines recently. It was only last January when Pope Francis came to the country, his trip covering Manila and Tacloban City. The main purpose of his visit was to bring a message of “mercy and compassion,” as was the theme, to the survivors of Typhoon Yolanda. The devastating super typhoon had killed thousands of people and destroyed homes and livelihood.
Another visit within the short timespan might anger other nations that would also want time with the pope. “If we insist, it’s as if we’re being selfish because it will lessen his opportunities to visit other countries. It would be a waste of opportunity because people from other countries would not be able to see him.”
On the hope that the Holy Father will be making a surprise visit, Villegas says that it’s highly unlikely because “that big of a surprise would be difficult for us.”
Pope Francis’ visit to the Philippines last January 2015 was a huge event for the country that required lengthy planning. Read more about it: “Preparation for the Papal Visit 2015.”
Photo credits: The Irish Times