Pope Francis to visit PH in 2016?

The country's bishops are hopeful that Pope Francis will visit the Philippines in 2016.

Leaders of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said Vatican has asked that a global event in Cebu be moved to an earlier date due to the pope's schedule.

Vatican wants the 51st International Eucharistic Congress originally slated in May 2016 to be held in January of the same year instead.

"Two weeks ago, we received a letter from Archbishop Marini asking us if we could move the event to the second preferred date because the pope has another schedule in May," CBCP President and Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma said.

He was referring to Archbishop Piero Marini, the president of the Pontifical Committee on the International Eucharistic Congress.
"We told them that January is fine because our suggestion was to make the pope's visit to the Philippines a priority," Palma said further.

The IEC, which is held once every four years, is expected to draw thousands of participants including Church leaders from all over the world.

It was last held in Dublin, Ireland in June 2012, with then Pope Benedict XVI delivering a pre-recorded message from Vatican.

The Philippines last hosted the IEC in 1937, during the time of Pope Pius XI.

Leaders, including Vice President Jejomar Binay who was at the Pope's inauguration, have earlier invited Pope Francis to visit the Philippines.

If his visit pushes through, Pope Francis will be the third pontiff to visit the Philippines, following Pope Paul VI in 1970 and Pope John Paul, who came here in 1981 and 1995.

CBCP's Palma meanwhile urged Filipino Catholics to continue praying for the papal visit to push through.

"We know that the pope continues to inspire us and his visit will have an enormous impact on our faith and our Christian life," the prelate said.

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