04/12/2024, 18.05
Send to a friend

Pope Francis will be in Southeast Asia and Oceania from 2 to 13 September

The Holy See has officially announced the long journey to Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste, and Singapore. Card Goh of Singapore hopes the pope will bring to his predominantly Chinese city, “renewed fervour to all Catholics [. . .], especially in these most challenging of times”. It will also be the first time a pontiff visits Dili since independence. For Card Carmo da Silva, the Holy Father comes to “strengthen Timor-Leste’s Church in the faith and love of Christ.”

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis will undertake a long trip to Asia and Oceania at the end of the summer. The director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni, issued an official statement to that effect, indicating dates and locations.

Back in January, the Government of Papua New Guinea had leaked some details about the trip while a few days ago, the bishops of Indonesia announced that the pope would visit their country.

“Accepting the invitation of the respective Heads of State and Church Authorities,” reads the press release signed by the director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni, “Pope Francis will undertake an Apostolic Journey to Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste and Singapore from 2 to 13 September. He will visit Jakarta from 3 to 6 September, Port Moresby and Vanimo from 6 to 9 September, Dili from 9 to 11 September and Singapore from 11 to 13 September.”

As is customary, the detailed schedule of each stop will be published in due course. Despite the pope’s recent health issues, this long and demanding 12-day journey confirms once again Pope Francis's great consideration for Asia.

The pontiff had been scheduled to visit Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and Timor-Leste in 2020, but was forced to cancel due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This time, Singapore was added. Like Mongolia last year, the great crossroads of Southeast Asia is another privileged place to speak and reach out to the Chinese and the Sinic world, given that three quarters of the city-state’s population is ethnic Chinese.

Vietnam is not on the pope’s travel list this time. Improving relations in the recent past between Hanoi and the Holy See and the great desire of Vietnamese Catholics to welcome the pontiff's visit had raised hopes.

For Pope Francis, the planned journey was already very challenging. The sudden departure of President Võ Văn Thưởng, who had issued an official invitation to Pope Francis in December, probably weighed heavily on the decision not to include Vietnam this time.

Nevertheless, as the recent visit to Vietnam by Vatican Secretary for Relations with States Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher shows, the door for a papal visit appears to be still open and the trip is probably only postponed.

The Catholic Church in the countries the pontiff will visit issued statements confirming the papal trip in September. The Archdiocese of Singapore has already launched a website dedicated to the event.

"It has been 38 years since we had a visit from the Vicar of Christ to Singapore, when Pope St John Paul II honoured us with a visit on 20 November 1986,” writes Archbishop William Goh in a statement.

“It is my hope that this visit of the Holy Father, Pope Francis, will bring renewed fervour to all Catholics in Singapore, uniting them in faith and mission, especially in these most challenging of times,” added the prelate, who was elevated to the cardinalship by Pope Francis himself.

Along with official state engagements, the archdiocese expects that the highlight of Pope Francis’s stop in the Southeast Asian city-state will be a major Eucharistic celebration, likely on 12 September.

In Dili, the capital of Timor-Leste, the Bishops’ Conference made the official announcement today in a press conference attended by Card Virgilio do Carmo da Silva and the Apostolic Nuncio, Rev Mgr Marco Sprizzi.

Francis’s arrival will be a very important moment for the country (one of two Asian countries with a Catholic majority; the other one is the Philippines) which obtained its independence only in 2002, after much bloodshed and suffering.

John Paul II had already made a stop in Dili in 1989, when Timor-Leste was still a province of Indonesia, but was demanding its independence.

The Archbishop of Dili expressed the joy of the local Church for the September date, hoping the Timorese can “participate and be together with the Holy Father, who comes mainly to meet them and strengthen Timor-Leste’s Church in the faith and love of Christ.”

“[L]et us prepare ourselves with an intense prayer to welcome the Holy Father," added the secretary of the Timor-Leste Bishops' Conference, Fr Carlos Miguel Pereira, “so that his visit will be the moment in which we reinvigorate our participation in building our ecclesial and civil community, in living our faith, and purifying our culture”.

Send to a friend
Printable version
See also
Pope talks about the Middle East, the Holy Land and the food crisis with Bush
Pope in Port Moresby in August? A possible trip to a country in crisis
25/01/2024 17:24
Garuda and nature’s colours in the logos of Francis's journey to Asia and Oceania
08/05/2024 17:05
Timor-Leste gives award to Sri Lankan journalist who supported its fight for independence
30/11/2023 16:18
Timor-Leste’s Nobel Prize recipient Bishop Belo accused of paedophilia
29/09/2022 14:21


Subscribe to Asia News updates or change your preferences

Subscribe now
“L’Asia: ecco il nostro comune compito per il terzo millennio!” - Giovanni Paolo II, da “Alzatevi, andiamo”