Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle has confirmed the coming visit of Pope Francis to the Philippines. Pope Francis is expected to be in the country from January 15 to 19, 2015. This apostolic visit will come right after his visit to Sri Lanka from January 12 to 15, 2015.
Purpose of the Visit
Pope Francis has long expressed his desire to visit the victims of the super typhoon that hit Eastern Visayas last year as well as the victims of the earthquake that resulted to the destruction of many homes and heritage churches in the country. He will have the chance to do so during this visit. This is in keeping with his desire to show solidarity and compassion to people who have been affected by deadly calamities.
The other purpose of the visit is to be present in the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the celebration of the World Youth Day. We would remember that that this event was presided over by then Pope John Paul II, now a saint, when he came for his second visit in Manila. Pope John Paul first visited the Philippines in 1981 while another pope, Pope Paul VI, also did so in 1970. Pope Francis will be the third pope to visit the country.
Theme of the Visit
The Pope has expressed his desire to have a simple and pastoral visit. In connection with this, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines has come up the visit’s central theme. It will be focused on mercy and compassion.
The people are encouraged to spiritually prepare for the coming visit by doing acts of mercy everyday. Acts of mercy would include all acts that seek to help other people in whatever way such as visiting the prisoners, giving food to the poor, or even just supporting a person going through an especially difficult time. The faithful are also encouraged to go to confession while the priests are likewise encouraged to make themselves more available to people who would want to.