Pope Francis

Eras Tour (Pope’s Version): Why Francis will skip Philippines in Asian trip

Patricia Kahanap

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Eras Tour (Pope’s Version): Why Francis will skip Philippines in Asian trip

Pope Francis gestures on the day of the weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, April 3, 2024.

REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane

CBCP president Bishop Pablo Virgilio David tells Rappler that Pope Francis prioritized countries like Singapore and Indonesia 'where Catholics are very tiny but influential minorities'

MANILA, Philippines – “Come back, be here.”

In a move that reminded Filipinos of the popular Eras Tour concert, the Vatican announced that Pope Francis will visit four countries in the Asia-Pacific in September this year, with the Philippines not on the list.

Francis will visit Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste, and Singapore, in this order, from September 3 to 13.

Netizens asked why Francis will not be stopping by the Philippines, the biggest predominantly Catholic country in Asia, during his Asia-Pacific trip.

CBCP president explains

Kalookan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, said in a message to Rappler that the Pope prioritized countries like Singapore and Indonesia “where Catholics are very tiny but influential minorities,” given his increasing frailty.

“Pope Francis has visited the Philippines in 2015 and he has a deep fondness about his Philippine visit, which he keeps mentioning whenever he meets Filipinos in special audiences. But obviously, he is not as energetic as he used to be anymore,” he said.

David noted how Timor-Leste is predominantly Catholic but with “only a small population of one million.” He also depicted the Catholic minorities in the three other countries that the Pope will visit: 30% of the population in Papua New Guinea, 3.1% in Indonesia, and 3% in Singapore.

“Since Indonesia and Singapore are now so easily accessible to Filipinos who are not even required a visa to these fellow ASEAN countries, I am sure many Filipinos who have the means will take advantage of the opportunity to see Pope Francis there,” said the CBCP head, who is also the incoming vice president of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences.

Some Filipinos remember this situation all too well after American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift announced additional stops for her Eras Tour, but the Philippines did not make the cut.

The resemblance between Swift’s much-awaited concert and the Pope’s highly anticipated visit brought out jokes from masterminds on the internet.

Willing to travel

But just like Swifties and the Eras Tour, many Filipino Catholics expressed their willingness to travel to Singapore or Indonesia – which are four-hour flights away from Manila – just to see the Pope in the flesh.

Pope Francis last went to the Philippines for a five-day visit in January 2015, an event which inspired many Filipinos through important speeches and homilies

Given the chance, would you travel to see the Pope? Let’s chat about it in the #faith channel of the Rappler communities app. – with reports from Paterno R. Esmaquel II/Rappler.com

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Patricia Kahanap

Patricia Kahanap is a digital communications specialist at Rappler.