Catholics in the Philippines are looking forward to seeing Pope Francis during his Papal visit, which take place January 15 – 19. The Catholic News Service says that the pontiff’s upcoming visit will give Filipino Catholics a big morale boost, particularly as their country has experienced serious challenges recently.
The upcoming Pope Francis visit will be the first the Philippines have seen since Pope John Paul II visited Manila in 1995. According to the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the pontiff plans to roam through 58-hectare Rizal Park, mingling with and blessing the faithful before celebrating mass. Hundreds of thousands plan to be in attendance on January 18, and both the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines will be on hand to provide security.
Is Pope Francis frightened by the prospect of mingling with so many people in a public setting? Not at all, according to Reverend Rufino Sescon Jr., executive secretary of the papal visit committee.
“That’s what the pope wants. Even in Rome, that is done. Before the Mass, the Pope goes around to greet the people. He wants to really meet and bless everyone because that will be his only chance to do so.”
Over the course of his five-day visit, Pope Francis is expected to draw an estimated six million people to a variety of events. Although his itinerary is subject to change, these are some of the planned highlights.
- A courtesy call in Malacañang, plus a number of meetings in Manila, where Francis will greet families, youth, priests, and other consecrated persons.
- A day in the hard-hit province of Leyte, where the environmentally conscious pope plans to meet with survivors of the 2013 Visayas earthquake and Typhoon Yolanda.
- Holy Mass at the Manila Cathedral, where Pope Francis will be joined by 2,000 bishops, priests, and other consecrated persons. The public will be able to watch from seats inside tents, while those with special IDs will be able to enter the cathedral. This mass is to take place Friday, January 16.
On Saturday, January 17, Pope Francis will celebrate mass at the Tacloban Airport grounds. Accommodations will be made for as many as 160,000 people, with big screens set up for easy viewing.
Pope Francis plans to meet with Filipino youths at the University of Santo Tomas on Sunday, January 18. Although this event is open to the public, the UST grandstand and football field will be open to designated youth delegates only. The mass at Rizal Park will follow.
There are no tickets required to attend events where Pope Francis presides. Instead, the papal visit committee advises the public to arrive early.
[Pope Francis image via presstv.ir]