Pope will travel to Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, East Timor and Singapore

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VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis will go to Indonesia, East Timor, Papua New Guinea and Singapore in September, the Vatican introduced Friday, confirming the longest journey of Francis’ papacy that’s certain to check his well being, stamina and mobility.

The Vatican confirmed the Sept. 2-13 go to, saying the 87-year-old pope would go to Jakarta, Indonesia; Port Moresby and Vanimo, Papua New Guinea; Dili, East Timor; and Singapore. Additional particulars might be introduced later.

Francis’ well being has turn out to be a supply of accelerating concern and hypothesis, despite the fact that the pontiff is ready to stick with it with a rigorous schedule of conferences on the Vatican and even excursions to native parishes.

Francis, who had a part of one lung eliminated as a younger man, needed to cancel a deliberate go to to Dubai late final yr after he got here down with a foul case of bronchitis. He suffered from respiratory issues all winter and needed to curtail his participation in Holy Week occasions to avoid wasting his vitality for Easter.

Francis has additionally been utilizing a wheelchair for practically two years due to unhealthy knee ligaments, and has stated that touring has turn out to be more and more tougher.

And but at 11 days, the journey could be the longest of Francis’ papacy, outpacing by a couple of days a few of his lengthy journeys to the Americas early on in his 11-year papacy. It would deliver the Argentine Jesuit to the world’s most populous Muslim nation, Indonesia, in addition to the previous Portuguese colony of East Timor, the place the Catholic Church wields huge affect.

There’s additionally an opportunity of one other leg to the journey being added later: This week, the Vatican international minister, Archbishop Paul Gallagher, was in Vietnam and mentioned a papal go to, Vatican Information reported, with out offering particulars.

In a press release asserting the go to, the Indonesian international ministry welcomed the go to and recalled that it had initially been scheduled for 2020 however was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The go to of Pope Francis to Indonesia holds vital significance to the Indonesian individuals, not just for Catholics but additionally for all non secular communities. The go to can also be anticipated to strengthen the message of tolerance, unity and world peace,” the assertion stated.

Indonesia is house to roughly 242 million Muslims and 29 million Christians — 8.5 million of whom are Catholics — in keeping with a 2022 report by the Non secular Affairs Ministry.

East Timor, which at the moment has a inhabitants of about 1.2 million individuals, is Southeast Asia’s solely predominantly Christian nation excluding the Philippines. In accordance with the 2015 census, 97.6% of East Timor’s inhabitants is Catholic.

The go to to East Timor will possible reignite consideration over a clergy intercourse abuse scandal involving its revered independence hero and Nobel Peace Prize winner. The Vatican confirmed in 2022 that it had sanctioned Bishop Carlos Ximenes Belo following allegations that he sexually abused boys there throughout the Nineteen Nineties. Belo is believed to now be residing in Portugal.

Francis would be the first pope to go to Papua New Guinea since St. John Paul II went there in 1984. The nation, in a strategically essential a part of the South Pacific, has struggled with tribal violence and civil unrest.

John Paul additionally visited Singapore, in 1986. The nation at the moment is house to 395,000 Catholics and Francis in 2022 made its archbishop Singapore’s first cardinal.

In a press release welcoming the go to, Cardinal William Goh, stated it “will deliver renewed fervor to all Catholics in Singapore, uniting them in religion and mission, particularly in these most difficult of instances.”

The Vatican has deliberate just one different papal journey this yr — to Belgium to rejoice the anniversary of the nation’s Catholic college. Francis has additionally stated he desires to return to his native Argentina, however no plans or dates have been introduced.

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Karmini contributed from Jakarta, Indonesia.

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