Pope Francis to visit several countries

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 06/19/2014 - 14:51

On Saturday, June 20, the Pope goes to Calabria, in July to Molise, in September to Albania. On the agenda two trips to Asia (Korea, Sri Lanka and the Philippines) and in 2015 a possible visit to the frontier Wall that separates part of the border between Mexico and the United States.

Fifteen months after his pontificate the "geography" of Papal trips appears to be in line with the pastoral indications that Francis is giving to the Church: attention to the outskirts, closeness with the more difficult situations even when they disappear from the radar of international attention, the desire not become used to the "boils" of"globalization indifference", as the bishop of Rome said during the trip to Lampedusa in July 2013.

That the Argentine Pope, generally unaccustomed to travel as a bishop - when he was away from Buenos Aires he repeated that he wanted to return soon to "me esposa", to my wife, that is to his diocese - would have new priorities in the choice of places to visit was understood when he traveled to the island of Sicily where thousands of refugees, persecuted and emigrants land. A whirlwind trip of one day, decided in no time, without the usual protocol, without a catwalk of politicians and without the presence of bishops.

After the unexpected blitz in Lampedusa, with a crown of flowers thrown into the sea by the Pope in memory of the many victims buried in its depths, at the end of that same month of July came the carioca week in Rio de Janeiro for World Youth Day. The first return to Latin America by the first Latin American Pope, but this trip had been scheduled some time ago by his predecessor Benedict XVI. Of that trip to Rio the most touching moment was Bergoglio’s visit to the favela of Varginha, with a visit to a poor family.

In September, the second Italian journey. Another day spent on an island, Sardinia, particularly hard hit by unemployment. The city of Buenos Aires is named after the sanctuary in Cagliari of the Madonna di Bonaria, but the problems of work and the suffering of those who cannot make it are always in the foreground.

The third whirlwind trip in Italy is almost a foregone conclusion: the Jesuit Pope who took the name of the Poverello has never visited the sites of the patron saint of Italy. For this reason, in October, with a tour-de-force program that once again favors the last, the suffering and the poor, Francis visits Assisi. He does not lunch with the authorities, but with the poor. And the most moving encounter is the long visit to the Seraphic Institute, which houses hundreds of children with serious disabilities: Bergoglio has an embrace and a caress for each of them.

In May this year, the second international trip: only three days and two nights to visit the Holy Land on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the embrace between Paul VI and Athenagoras. Francis responds to the brotherly invitation offered by the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew, repeated by Israeli President Shimon Peres, now at the end of his term. An eminently religious journey which is precisely why it does not forget sufferings, no matter who must live or suffer them. So pictures of the Pope in silent prayer before the separation wall built by Israel in the West Bank, as well as in front of the monument in Jerusalem that commemorates the victims of terrorism sweep the world. A pilgrimage that has an extension with the invocation of peace in the Vatican gardens, with the participation of Peres and Abu Mazenat the invitation of the Pope.

Next Saturday, the fourth Italian trip takes the Pope on a visit to Cassanoallo Ionio, the diocese of the bishop Nunzio Galantino, Secretary of the Italian Bishops' Conference. Francis wants to explain to the faithful of the diocese of Calabria why he is depriving them - at the moment, for a few days a week - of their bishop, who has become his point of reference in the CEI. But once again it is a border diocese with a thousand problems.

On July 5th, Francis will be at the dioceses of Campobasso and Isernia, in Molise, for one day, "That of Molise - said Archbishop Gianfranco Bregantini - is a further lap in the journey that Bergoglio is making through the outskirts. It's a little-known region that does not make news, but needs to be revived under penalty of abandonment to sloth, to resignation".

In mid-August a third international trip is anticipated to South Korea: there will be a meeting of Asian youth, but we cannot hide the fact that by visiting that country Francis will approach one of the most internationally "hot" frontiers,that which divides Korea in two, with the winds of war that are blowing cyclically in the region and followed closely by the international community. And Asia is a particularly interesting frontier for the Argentinian Pope: in mid-January he will return to the continent to visit Sri Lanka and then the Philippines, particularly the areas affected by the tsunami. Once again, an unprecedented but precise criteria of choice, which leaves little room for doubt as to what are the priorities of his pontificate.

For Italy a flash trip to Redipuglia on September 13thhas already been announced, to commemorate the victims of the First World War, which broke out a hundred years ago, the conflict that changed the face of Europe. And its post-war period which prepared the immense second world war.

Also in September, on the 21st, for now another one day round trip is scheduled. It will be the Pope’s first visit in Europe, and will take place in Tirana, Albania. "The Pope chooses Albania, he wants to meet the outskirts, the poor, and contribute to interreligious and ecumenical dialogue" said Father Federico Lombardi.

For 2015, in addition to the previously announced second trip to Asia, there is no confirmation of other trips. Although the expected VIII World Meeting of Families to be held in Philadelphia from August 22 to 27 could be an opportunity for Francis to visit, in addition to the United States, the North of Mexico. According to the agency, "Notimex" it is possible that - if the trip is confirmed – Francis may make a quick trip to the boundary wall that separates the border between Mexico and the United States, a symbol of migration, a border where thousands of people have died in recent years. A place, recalls the website «Il Sismografo»,which U.S. bishops have called "the Lampedusa of America".

Outskirts, encounters with the most disadvantaged situations, brief pilgrimage of prayer at the frontiers, on the walls that divide, solidarity with the poor and the suffering, the preferential choice for locations that seem to count little. But that count for much in the eyes of Pope Bergoglio and his "geography".

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Andrea Tornielli