Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle announces that Pope Francis will visit the Philippines on January 15 to 19, 2015.
During a media briefing in Manila on Tuesday held in Intramuros, Manila, Tagle said the Catholic hierarchy was encouraging the Filipino faithful to prepare for the Holy Father's visit by starting to pratice acts of "mercy and compassion."
"We have received a letter from the Vatican City and the following message is being announced: 'Accepting the invitation of the civil authority and the bishops, his Holiness Pope Francis will make an Apostolic visit to Sri Lanka from January 12 to 15 and to the Philippines from January 15 to 19, 2015',” Tagle said.
According to the CBCP news, Pope Fancis' visit carries a message of pastoral love, mercy and compassion from a Pope with the scent of a Good Shepherd (cf. John 10). Even though, this will be the fourth papal visit to our nation, for Pope Francis he will be the third Pope to visit our country. As the Successor to the Chair of Peter, the Holy Father is coming to strengthen his brothers and sisters (cf. Luke 22:32).
|Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, with Papal nuncio Archbishop Giuseppe Pinto announces Pope Francis’ visit to the Philippines set on January 15 to 19, 2015 during a media briefing in Intramuros Manila last Tuesday.|
“The program of the visit will be made public by the Holy See later in the year. Thanks be to God.”
According to Tagle, the Pope's visit would coincide with with the 20th anniversary of the World Youth Day celebration held in the Philippines in 1995. The late Pope John Paul II, who was declared a saint this year by Pope Francis, led the event two decades ago in Manila.
The central theme of the Papal visit was “mercy and compassion."
“That has been the recurring theme not only of the teaching, of the homilies, but also of the actions of His Holy Father, so the bishops thought of using this as the theme,” Tagle said.
While no specific events have been finalized, Tagle said Pope would visit areas affected by super typhoon Yolanda in the Visayas as well as some places in Manila.
Asked what Filipinos can do to prepare for the visit, Tagle said, “We could prepare best by undergoing spiritual renewal, tasting the mercy of God, returning to God through the sacrament of reconciliation.”
He also urged Filipinos to engage in “specific actions of mercy,” as he reminded Catholics of the unique style of Pope Francis, which was already obvious on the first day of his papacy.
“He wants to journey with the people where they are,” he said.
Tagle noted that when Pope Francis blessed the mosaic of St. Pedro Calungsod at St. Peter’s Basilica back in November, he took time to include Filipinos in his prayers.
He said the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines encouraged the Filipino people to start observing acts of “mercy and compassion” as early as now in preparation for the Pope's visit.
“Spiritual preparation is the most important through spritual renewal, returning to the word of God, frequenting the eucharist, adoration, returning to God through the sacrament of reconciliation and confession, these are some of the ways by which we can prepare spiritually.”
“Another way is for us to engage in specific actions of mercy. Sanayin natin ang ating sarili sa pagiging tao ng habag at pakikiramay...feeding the hungry, visiting those in prison, giving counsel to the suffering,” Tagle added.
Tagle said Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas as well as Pasig Bishop Mylo Hubert Vergara will lead the Catholic Church's preparations for the Pope's visit.
President Benigno Aquino III has already designated Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. as the government's lead point person in the preparations for the visit.
“The government joins the Filipino people in welcoming the Vatican's announcement that His Holiness Pope Francis will make an Apostolic visit to the Philippines. Filipinos will most certainly accord to Pope Francis the warmest hospitality and manifest the fervor of their faith as they welcome the first Pontiff from South America,” Presidential Communications Operations Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said during the press conference.
“President Aquino is calling on all concerned government offices and the citizenry to work closely with the Papal Visit committee in ensuring the success of the Apostolic visit of Pope Francis,” Coloma added.
The theme of Pope Francis' visit is " Mercy and Compassion."