Vatican details Francis’ schedule in Asia and Oceania

Following a heavy schedule that includes sixteen speeches, three Masses and a 32,000 km flight, Pope Francis will visit the far reaches of Asia and Oceania in September, the Vatican announced on July 5.

Francis’ longest trip since his election in 2013 will take him to Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, East Timor and Singapore from September 2 to 13. The 87-year-old Pope will face a significant physical challenge on this tour.

Interfaith gathering in Jakarta

The Argentine pontiff, who leads the fastest-growing church in Asia, will preside over three Masses in stadiums in Jakarta, Port Moresby and Singapore, according to an official program released by the Holy See’s press office.

One of the highlights of his visit will be his participation in an interfaith gathering at the Istiklal Mosque on September 5 in Jakarta, the capital of the world’s largest Muslim-majority country.

In Papua New Guinea, an Oceanian nation marked by deadly riots earlier this year, the Pope meets street children and makes a day trip to Wanimo (north).

As usual, he will meet local officials, diplomatic corps and local clergy at each stop.

A plan to protect his health

The schedule has been modified to protect the Pope’s health, with two speeches per day. On the first day in Jakarta, after a flight of more than 13 hours, the Pope’s schedule is free, allowing him to recover and adjust for the time difference.

The trip was originally planned for September 2020, but was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite his increasingly frail health, the Argentine pope wanted to honor his call to these countries, which he described as „surroundings,” emphasizing the Church’s evangelization and missionary work.

Pope Francis has been using a wheelchair for two years and has recently suffered from knee, hip and colon problems and respiratory problems. He has not traveled abroad since his trip to Marseille in September 2023.

After this trip, he will visit Luxembourg and Belgium at the end of September.

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