It will be the second invitation extended by the Catholic Church to the Holy Father, who declined an offer this year to make a side trip to the Philippines from his visit to Australia for the World Youth Day last July.
Two bishops confirmed that an invitation has been forwarded to the Vatican, following consultations with other CBCP members.
The invitation was prompted by a separate request of the Catholic Church in Taiwan for the Pope to attend its 150th anniversary of its evangelization. Taipei’s local bishops have asked the CBCP to also invite the Pope, noting that Manila would host the Asian Youth Day next year.
The Asian Youth Day (AYD), a regional version of the World Youth Day, was last observed in Hongkong in 2006.
But one of the sources said the Pope is likely to refuse the offer, considering the diplomatic implication of the Pope’s visit to Taiwan, which is still considered a “renegade” province by China.
Asian Youth Day
According to a July 30, 2008 story on Asian Youth Day on the Union of Catholic Asian News (UCAN) website, organizers plan to hold the AYD in the Philippines last week of November or first week of December 2009.
The UCAN report said, "AYD organizers have not decided on the theme for the celebration, but activities will center on the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences (FABC) thrust toward Eucharist in the context of the young."
The report said "AYD celebrations, held in years when no international WYD celebration takes place, aim to inspire Asian Catholics to continue and live their faith "passionately, in a more dedicated way," according to Jessica Joy Candelario, the head of the desk of the FABC's Office of Laity and Family.
Asian bishops vowed in a previous World Youth Day celebration to "give more priority to the needs of young people." They agreed to establish a "youth office that will give a more concrete voice for young Asians," the UCAN report said.
"Three years later, the FABC established its laity office's Youth Desk. The desk organized the first AYD celebration in Thailand in 1999," the UCAN report said.
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