Pope Francis eyes Philippine visit

Pope Francis says he wants to visit Asia 'because it's a continent Benedict XVI did not get to.' Will this happen in 2016, in time for the International Eucharistic Congress in Cebu?

'HIGH HOPES.' In an audience after his election, Pope Francis tells Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle that he's hopeful about the Philippines. Screen grab from youtube.com/vatican

MANILA, Philippines – Pope Francis on Monday, July 29, said he is considering to visit the Philippines as part of an Asian trip that his predecessor failed to accomplish.

“I think a trip to Asia can be done, especially because it’s a continent Benedict XVI did not get to, though he wanted to…maybe Sri Lanka, maybe the Philippines, I’m not sure,” Francis said, as quoted by Vatican watcher John Allen on the National Catholic Reporter.

Francis said this aboard a plane on his way back to Vatican City, coming from World Youth Day (WYD) celebrations in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Francis has “high hopes for the Philippines,” Asia’s biggest Catholic country, said Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle as he relayed the Pope’s message to him in March.

“When I approached Pope Francis to assure him of the closeness and collaboration of the Filipinos, he said, ‘I have high hopes for the Philippines. May your faith prosper, as well as your devotion to Our Lady and mission to the poor,'” Tagle said after the conclave that elected Francis.

READ: Pope Francis to Tagle: High hopes for PH

The Philippine government has invited Francis to visit the Philippines.

Vice President Jejomar Binay said Francis could visit in time for the International Eucharistic Congress, which will be held in Cebu in 2016.

The last time a Pope visited the Philippines was in 1995, when the late John Paul II led World Youth Day in Manila.

READ: World Youth Day in Manila: John Paul II speaks

It was the biggest WYD in history, attended by 4 million young people from around the world.  Up to 3 million delegates attended WYD in Brazil this year. – Paterno Esmaquel II/Rappler.com

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