MANILA, Philippines – Pope Francis will receive arrival honors and hold bilateral talks with Philippine President Benigno Aquino III, among other things, as he visits the Philippines not only as religious leader but also as head of state.
“This time, it is both a state and pastoral visit, with ceremonies minimized,” Ambassador Marciano Paynor Jr, one of the organizers of the Pope’s trip, said in a media briefing on Friday, November 14.
The Pope heads Vatican City State.
Paynor said Francis’ trip is unlike John Paul’s visit in 1995, which was “just a pastoral visit” with a courtesy call on then president Fidel V Ramos.
Paynor, who oversaw presidential protocol when John Paul visited the Philippines, explained that a state visit will mean, among other things:
Giving Francis arrival honors when he visits the presidential palace, Malacañang;
Holding bilateral talks between him and Aquino; and
Having Francis address government officials and the diplomatic corps in Malacañang
In a briefer, the Philippine government explained that a state visit happens when the host head of state invites a foreign head of state to the host country.
“State visits reflect the highest level of hospitality, honor and formality in relations between nations,” the Philippine government said.
Government considering a holiday
In Friday’s media briefing led by Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, Paynor added, “This is also a time when the President breaks protocol and meets with His Holiness at the airport, and sends him off, very much like 1995.”
During the Pope’s first trip to Asia in August, South Korean President Park Geun-Hye also welcomed Francis upon arrival.
Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr also said the government is considering to declare a holiday during the Pope’s visit as “part of the security preparations.” (READ: PH mulls holiday for Pope’s visit)
The Catholic Church in the Philippines, for its part, is focusing on the trip as an apostolic visit.
Explaining the nature of the trip, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines said: “His visit carries a message of pastoral love, mercy and compassion from a Pope with the scent of a Good Shepherd….As the Successor to the Chair of Peter, the Holy Father is coming to strengthen his brothers and sisters.”
The highlights of his trip include the Pope’s lunch with survivors of Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in Leyte and events in the Manila Cathedral, the University of Santo Tomas, and the Mall of Asia Arena. (READ: Vatican releases Pope’s Philippine itinerary)
Francis will become the third pope to visit the Philippines, after Paul VI in 1970, and John Paul II in 1981 and 1995. – Rappler.com
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