There is a chance Pope Francis will visit the Philippines in 2016.
Archbishop Jose Palma, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) raised the possibility on Thursday.
Palma said he received a request from the Vatican to move the International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) to be held in Cebu City to an earlier date.
The congress, which originally set on May 23 to 29 next year will be held four months earlier, from January 25 to 31.
Palma said the request to change the date was made by Archbishop Piero Marini, president of the Pontifical Committee on the International Eucharistic Congress.
“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,” he said.
“We told them that January is fine because our suggestion was to make the pope’s visit to the Philippines a priority,” Palma said.
Held every four years, the 51st International Eucharistic Congress 2016 will reflect on the theme “Christ in You: Our Hope of Glory.”
The Congress is expected to draw thousands of participants – including laity and Church leaders – from countries around the world.
Palma called on the Filipinos to continue praying that the papal visit will 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,” he said.
JOHANNA M. SAMPAN