MANILA, Philippines – Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Albert del Rosario said in a statement on Friday, May 10, that he reiterated to the Apostolic Nuncio in the Philippines, Archbishop Guiseppe Pinto, the invitation of President Aquino for His Holiness Pope Francis to visit the Philippines.
The invitation was conveyed during a get-together lunch hosted by the Apostolic Nuncio for Secretary Del Rosario and other officials of the DFA on May 8.
Archbishop Pinto assured Secretary Del Rosario that he has conveyed the invitation to the Vatican and would welcome the honor and opportunity to assist the Pope during the visit.
Two retired cardinals, Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, the archbishop emeritus of Manila, and Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, the retired archbishop of Cebu, were also reported to have extended the invitation to Pope Francis.
Vice President Jejomar Binay also extended Aquino’s invitation and said that Francis can visit the Philippines for the International Eucharistic Congress in 2016.
The 51st International Eucharistic Congress, which normally takes place every four years, will be held in Cebu in 2016. The Congress is an international gathering of people that aims to promote awareness and understanding of the Eucharist and the Catholic Church.
Pope Francis – or Jorge Mario Bergoglio, former archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina, was elected to lead the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics on March 14 (Philippine time).
Francis is the first pope from the Americas, as well as the first Jesuit, and the first non-European to become pope since the 8th century, when Syrian-born Gregory III was pontiff.
The last time a Pope came to the Philippines was in 1995 when Pope John Paul II visited Manila for World Youth Day.
On January 18, 1995, John Paul II celebrated mass to an estimated 4 to 5 million people at Luneta Park, making it to the Guinness Book of World Records for the Biggest Papal Crowd. – Rappler.com
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