Weeks before Pope Francis sets foot on Philippine soil, an official of the Catholic Church revealed that the pontiff will stay at the Apostolic Nunciature on Taft Avenue, Malate, in Manila for his entire four-day visit to the country.
Retired Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz said it is standard operating procedure (SOP) for visiting popes to stay at the Nunciature.
He explained that the Apostolic Nunciature serves as the residence of the Holy Father’s ambassador to the Philippines.
“[He will stay at the] Nunciature that’s [the]SOP [because]the place is the residence of his Ambassador to the Philippines-the [Papal] Nuncio,” Cruz said in an interview.
A reliable source confirmed Cruz’s statement.
The source said Pope John Paul 2nd, who visited the Philippines in 1995, also stayed at the Apostolic Nunciature, with the Papal Nuncio transferring to a another room to give way to the visitor.
When asked why members of the media are not allowed inside the Nunciature, the source said the Catholic Church does not allow it to happen “not only for security purposes but also out of respect for the privacy of the pontiff.”
During a recent news briefing for the papal visit to the Philippines, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle said the Church is assuring that Francis will be billeted in a safe place.
On January 15 to 19 next year, Pope Francis is expected to be in the Philippines as part of his apostolic visit and to personally console victims of natural disasters in 2013.
His itinerary puts his arrival at 5:45 p.m., January 15, at Villamor Air Base in Pasay City (Metro Manila).
On January 16, he will be welcomed at Malacañang Palace as part of his state visit.
Then, a motorcade will bring him to Manila Cathedra, where he will say Mass before priests, bishops and religious leaders.
On January 17, Francis will depart for Tacloban City, Leyte, where he will also say Mass near Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport and then will dine with some survivors of Super Typhoon Yolanda and survivors of Bohol earthquake.
After the lunch with the survivors, he will bless the Pope Francis Center at the Archdiocese of Palo in Leyte and will meet with priests and bishops at the Cathedral of Palo.
From the cathedral, he will depart at 8:15 p.m. for the Villamor Air Base.
On Sunday, January 18, Francis will rally with the youth at the University of Santo Tomas, the only pontifical university in Asia, in Manila. He will also meet with some 10 religious leaders at the university. In the afternoon, he will say Mass at the Rizal Park (Luneta) in Manila.
On January 19, the pope is expected to leave the Philippines and will fly back to Rome.