POPE Francis is sending a French cardinal to represent him in the 4th World Apostolic Congress on Mercy (Wacom) to be hosted by the Philippines from January 16 to 20.
Cardinal Philippine Barbarin, the archbishop of Lyon, will preside over Mass at the Pontifical University of Santo Tomas in Manila on January 17, said Fr. Prospero Tenorio, Wacom secretary general.
Barbarin, as papal legate, will deliver the message of Pope Francis, whose papacy reached a high point in last year’s Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, a spiritual outreach to those who have felt marginalized by the Church.
Barbarin, 66, the “Primate of Gauls,” became priest in 1977 and bishop in 1998. He received the cardinal’s red hat from Pope St. John Paul II in 2003, and joined the conclaves that elected Pope Benedict XVI in 2005 and Pope Francis in 2013.
The Manila hosting of Wacom is the fourth one after previous congresses in Rome, Italy in 2008, Krakow, Poland in 2011 and Bogotá, Colombia in 2014.
Tenorio said a total of 722 foreign delegates were expected in Manila. There will also be 2,888 local delegates, including Filipino clergy.
Foreign delegates will join a Mass at the Manila Cathedral on January 16.
Other events are lined up in sites outside Manila: the Padre Pio National Shrine in Santo Tomas, Batangas on January 18: National Shrine of the Divine Mercy in Marilao, Bulacan on January 19; and the cathedral of Balanga in Bataan on January 20.
This will be the third high-profile event for the Philippine Church under Pope Francis, after the pontiff’s apostolic and state visit to the Philippines in 2015 and the 51st International Eucharistic Congress in Cebu in 2016.