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Pope Francis in PHL from Jan. 15 to 19, Cardinal Tagle says

(Updated 8:25 p.m.) Pope Francis will visit the Philippines on January 15 to 19 next year, Manila Archibishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle announced on Tuesday.

With this announcement, 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 in a press conference held in Intramuros, Manila.
“The program of the visit will be made public by the Holy See later in the year. Thanks be to God,” Tagle added.
Tagle said 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.
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.
“Ang mga detalye ng tatlong buong araw ng pagdating niya dito ay ipagbibigay alam sa atin ng Vatican sa pagtatapos ng taon," Tagle said.

"Pero siguro, hindi naman kaila na syempre dito siya sa Manila lalapag at dito din siya lilipat pabalik sa Roma. At nabanggit na rin naman noon na gusto rin niya ipadama ang kanyang pakikiisa sa mga naging biktima ng Bagyong Yolanda,” he added.
Tagle said 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.

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,” Tagle said.
“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,” he 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. — with a report by Joel Locsin/NB/KBK/BM, GMA News

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