• Pope’s PH itinerary released

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    Pope Francis will meet with President Benigno Aquino 3rd, dine with Yolanda survivors in Tacloban City and mingle with the youth at the University of Santo Tomas campus in Manila during his visit to the Philippines in January.

    Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle announced the itinerary of the pope at a press conference on Friday night.

    Francis will arrive at Villamor Airbase in Pasay City at 5:45 p.m. on January 15 from Colombo, Sri Lanka.

    He will then call on President Aquino and Archbishop Giuseppe Pinto, the Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines.

    On January 16, Francis will meet with government officials and the diplomatic corps at Malacañang. He will then say Mass at the Manila Cathedral.

    In the afternoon, the pope will meet with families at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

    On January 17, he will fly to Tacloban and celebrate Mass near the airport. Then he will dine with Yolanda survivors at the Archbishop’s Residence in Palo. At 3 p.m. the pope will bless the Pope Francis Center for the Poor in Palo before flying back to Manila.

    On January 18, the pope will meet with youth groups at the UST sports field.

    UST is the only university to have been visited by three popes four times: once by Pope Paul VI on November 28, 1970; twice by Saint Pope John Paul II on February 18, 1981 and January 13, 1995; and Pope Francis.

    Tagle said the masses the pope will celebrate are open to the public.
    On January 19, there will be a farewell ceremony for the pope at Villamor Air Base before he leaves Manila for Rome at 10 a.m.

    Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa said the government will ensure the security of the pope.

    “We cannot go any further than saying that we will secure the pope definitely. Of course it’s our duty, it’s our honor as well to provide that kind of security to make sure that the pope is safe,” Ochoa said.

    The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) urged the Filipinos to unite in making the papal visit a moment of grace for all.

    Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, CBCP president, said the Church is inviting the people to give Francis a warm welcome.

    Villegas said the visit “carries a message of pastoral love, mercy and compassion and it is through the understanding and living out of this message that the grace of joy will flow.”

    “But most importantly let us open our hearts to the message he will bring and, even now, extend the love, mercy and compassion and kindness that he practices to one another, that he may find in our country a blessed, kind, and grateful people,” he said.

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