Pope Francis to miss IEC in Cebu, will send envoy instead
CEBU CITY, Philippines—It’s final.
Pope Francis will not return to the Philippines for the International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) in Cebu City in January 2016.
He will instead send a papal representative during the week-long gathering, said Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, newly reelected president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).
“He is not coming. That’s sure already,” Villegas said in a report posted on the CBCP website.
Villegas said the Vatican already hinted that an envoy will be coming to Cebu City to attend the IEC on January 24 to 31, 2016.
“The sending of a papal envoy (is like saying) ‘I’m there with you’,” said Villegas.
Many Cebuanos were hoping the pope would find time to attend the religious congress.
READ: Cebu clings to prayer for papal visit in ’16
Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma said Pope Francis must have good reasons not to return to the country, and instead to visit other areas that also need his presence.
“We were actually hoping against hope. Under usual circumstances, never did it happen that a pope visit a country this year and return the following year,” Palma said in an interview Tuesday.
READ: Palma still hopeful on Pope’s 2016 IEC visit
Palma said Pope Francis’ visit to the Philippines last January “was already very memorable. It was a sign of his being a shepherd; an expression of love for victims of calamities,” he said.
Palma urged Filipinos, particularly Cebuanos, to continue working hard for the success of the IEC.
He said the Pope’s decision to skip the congress “does not at all lessen our enthusiasm. The IEC is an opportunity to give glory to God,” the prelate said.
At the end of the congress, during the closing Mass at the South Road Properties, Pope Francis is expected to deliver a message in a live satellite feed from Rome, Tan said.
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