Pope Francis has just left the country but already, the Catholic Church is hoping that the Holy Father will come back for the 51st International Eucharistic Congress to be held in Cebu next year.
The possibility of another papal visit next year was raised when Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle said the pontiff has been invited to the global event.
“Next month, when we go there [Vatican] for the consistory, [we]can ask him about the future plans, but the Philippines will host in January next year the 51st International Eucharistic Congress in Cebu. Will the Pope come again? For that? We hope,” he explained.
“Dahil nga nagpunta na siya for ito ngang ‘Mercy and Compassion’ [visit]tingnan natin. Kung pupunta siya, salamat (Because he has been here for the ‘Mercy and Compassion visit, let’s see],” Tagle said.
“It is the decision of the Holy Father. The event is there but the Holy Father will have to decide,” he added.
The same invitation was extended to the Pope in 2013 by retired Cardinals Gaudencio Rosales and Ricardo Vidal.
At the time, Cardinal Rosales told the just-elected Pope, the former Buenos Aires Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio, that the Philippines was already arranging his “first” papal visit in connection with the Eucharistic Congress.
Francis reportedly indicated openness to the idea, saying “Vamos a ver” (Let’s see).
If the new visit pushes through, Francis will return to the Philippines on January 24 next year for the weeklong Eucharistic Congress that will end on January 31, 2016.
The event was originally scheduled for May 2016 but it was moved to January upon request of the Vatican, thus fanning hopes that the Pope will grace the event.
The Eucharistic Congress is a global gathering of the clergy, religious and laity. The last time the Philippines hosted it was in 1937.
Meanwhile, Tagle urged Filipinos to reflect on the Pope’s messages and translate them into action.
He noted that the Pope’s messages demand deep reflection from the millions who turned out to meet the pontiff.
“May I recommend first of all that we spend time relishing the event. The event is so, so deep. There is so much to reflect on, so much to pray over, so much to learn,” Tagle said.
“It is only in meditation, in prayer, in silence, that we can really get to the depths of the profound meaning of this event,” he added.
Tagle mentioned several key themes of Francis’ homilies and speeches: the call to love and serve the poor, to appreciate the insights of children and to be missionaries of the faith.
“These are not only thoughts but if we ponder them they will prod us into action,” he said.
“As he said to the youth, ‘Think well, feel well and then do well.’ Let us think about it. Let us feel what we have thought about and then do according to the impulse of ideas and a profound spiritual and pastoral challenges,” Tagle added.
He thanked government officials, security forces and the millions of Filipinos who worked together to ensure the success of the Pope’s five-day state and apostolic visit.
“This event is really an act of communion, an act of solidarity. And it is a miracle in itself. And thanks to God and thanks to everyone, we were able to show to the world that it was possible. Communication, cooperation, collaboration, these are not just ideas, they can be translated into action,” Tagle said.