Monday, January 27, 2014

Korea, Philippines, Sri Lanka in line for papal visit

South Korea this year, Sri Lanka and the Philippines in 2015: Pope Francis is turning his attention to Asia, the continent Benedict XVI “didn't have time to go to.” And these three countries are on his list of countries to visit. 

The Vatican spokesman, Fr. Federico Lombardi confirmed rumours circulating in recent hours, stating that these trips are currently “being considered.”

With regards to South Korea, the spokesman said the trip was indeed “being considered” and that Pope Francis received “an invitation” from the Korean bishops to coincide with the big Asian youth meeting due to take place in Korea in mid-August. 

As far as the Pope’s potential visit to Sri Lanka and the Philippines is concerned, Fr. Lombardi answered that “there is an invitation, it is being considered” but not for this year. Fr. Lombardi gave a less definitive answer about a possible visit to Sarajevo: “the Pope has actually been invited”, but “this is not a decision, and there is nothing going on.” The spokesman categorically denied any other trips, for example to Uganda.

On the return flight from Rio following the World Youth Day celebrations, Francis said that a part from the visit to the Holy Land, which was recently scheduled for next May.” 

As far as Latin America is concerned “we have to wait a bit! I think one could go to Asia, but this is all up in the air. I've had an invitation to go to Sri Lanka and also to the Philippines. But, one has to go to Asia, because Pope Benedict didn't have time to go to Asia and it's important. He went to Australia and then to Europe and America, but Asia…”

The Pope spoke about Korea in the New Year’s speech he recently gave to diplomats accredited to the Holy See: “On this, the fiftieth anniversary of diplomatic relations with the Republic of Korea, I wish to implore from God the gift of reconciliation on the peninsula, and I trust that, for the good of all the Korean people, the interested parties will tirelessly seek out points of agreement and possible solutions.”

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