Manila (AsiaNews) - A visit by Pope Francis to the Philippines "will become another important moment for this country, as past papal visits did," said Fr Giovanni Re.
Fr Re, who is regional superior of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) in the Philippines, spoke to AsiaNews about last night's official papal announcement, made during his trip back from the Holy Land, that he would undertake an apostolic visit to Sri Lanka and the Philippines.
In the Asian country, the clergyman told AsiaNews, "There have been reports [about the trip] for about two months, since the Bishop of Cotabato Orlando Beltran Quevedo was appointed cardinal by Pope Francis. There was talk of the Holy Father's desire to come to the Philippines to visit communities affected by the typhoon."
Once the Vatican officially confirms the visit, the PIME missionary said, " I am sure the whole nation will mobilise to prepare a warm welcome for Pope Francis, as it did in the past with the visits of Pope Paul VI (1970) and John Paul II (1981, 1995)."
In addition to meeting the survivors of Typhoon Yolanda, which made landfall in November 2013 in the central areas of the archipelago affecting at least 11 million people, Francis Pope is expected to address issues like the defence of life and the family.
These important issues are often at the centre of heated debates in the Philippines and are dear to the pope himself, who has dedicated the Extraordinary Synod of October to the family.
However, in this respect, Fr Re noted, "It is still too early and we need to wait for the full programme."