Pope sets Philippine trip January 15-19

EYES ON VISAYAS. Pope Francis waves next to Filipino Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle during a ceremony to bless the new image of St Pedro Calungsod of Philippines at St Peter's Basilica on November 21, 2013 at the Vatican. Photo by Tiziana Fabi/AFP

EYES ON VISAYAS. Pope Francis waves next to Filipino Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle during a ceremony to bless the new image of St Pedro Calungsod of Philippines at St Peter's Basilica on November 21, 2013 at the Vatican.

Photo by Tiziana Fabi/AFP

MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) – Pope Francis will visit the Philippines from January 15 to 19, 2015, to meet earthquake and typhoon survivors in the Visayas, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle said.

In a media briefing on Tuesday, July 29, Tagle said the Vatican will release other details "later in the year." (On November 14, the Vatican released the Pope's itinerary in the Philippines. Read more in this report on Rappler.)

Before he arrives in the Philippines, Francis will visit Sri Lanka from January 12 to 15, 2015.

Tagle said that during the papal visit, Filipinos can show the Pope “who we truly are, especially the resilience of the Filipinos coming from faith, coming from compassion, coming from bottomless hope.”

“We, who experience an average of 20 to 22 typhoons a year, we can show the world what it means to be pained, to clean up, to stand again, and to face another morning,” the cardinal said.

Explaining Francis' choice to visit disaster-hit Visayas, Tagle added: "Pope Francis, from day one of his papacy, has wanted to journey with people where they are."

'Why? Why?'

Tagle recalled that shortly after Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) struck the Philippines in November 2013, Francis said “he was one with the suffering people, and that we should not be afraid to ask God, 'Why?' as children ask parents, 'Why?' Not so much for clear answers but to get the attention of the parent.” 

“So he says, maybe if the Filipinos, especially the suffering, will keep on asking, 'Why? Why?' the tender eyes of the Father will be directed to the Filipino people

“So if he said that last year, and I know it was said sincerely, not for rhetoric, from the bottom of his heart, now that he is coming to the Philippines, wow, I'm sure that desire of the heart will push him to get in contact with the people,” Tagle said.

The apostolic nuncio to the Philippines, Archbishop Giuseppe Pinto, added that he wants the Pope's visit to become a “spiritual typhoon.”

The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines earlier confirmed that Francis, known as the “Pope of Mercy,” wants to visit earthquake and typhoon survivors in the Visayas as the “main objective” of his Philippine trip.

This will mark the first time in 3 decades – only the second time ever – for a pope to go beyond the Philippines' capital, Manila, as the first Latin American pontiff vows to reach out to the world's “peripheries.” (READ: Pope chooses Visayas as core of Philippine trip)

The Pope's visit comes a year after a magnitude-7.2 earthquake that devastated Central Visayas, especially Bohol, and Yolanda that killed more than 6,000 people, mostly in Tacloban City in Eastern Visayas. 

The last time a pope visited the Philippines was from January 12 to 16, 1995, exactly two decades before Francis' trip. Back then, the late John Paul II led the World Youth Day events in the Philippines. – Rappler.com

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.

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