MANILA — Three Vatican executives are now in Tacloban City, Leyte to conduct evaluation and inspection in connection with the scheduled visit of Pope Francis in January 2015 to the super typhoon “Yolanda”-stricken area.
Msgr. Ramon Aguilos, chief protocol of the Archdiocese of Palo (for the visit of the Pope), said that Dr. Alberto Gasbarri, chief organizer of the Pastoral Visit; Dr. Paolo Cornvini, Office of the Protocol; and Dr. Stephanie Izo, of the Secretariat of Vatican are presently conducting inspection of the area.
He explained that the Vatican representatives are in the province to inspect and to identify where Pope Francis will be staying, what areas he will be visiting and where to hold the Mass, in case he will hold one.
With this, the Catholic priest said the people of the province are now excited for the visit of the Holy Father early next year.
“We are ready to welcome him. In fact we are preparing the place,” he said in an interview.
But, Aquilos said that they are not sure when the Pontiff is scheduled to arrive as no specific date has been given to them.
“We don’t know yet, so we cannot yet be very sure if it will be January 15. But it could be between January 15 to 20,” he said.
He added, “No definite itinerary yet, we are just going with the idea maybe they are staying here for this day, but we do not have the schedule yet. They are still gathering information from us, from the ground zero they are still gathering information.”
Aguilos noted that there are four proposed venues for the Mass. These are the Airport (new pavement) in Tacloban, Government Center, Sacred Heart Seminary, and Mikyu Mart, all located in Palo.
On the other hand, Cornvini said the reason they are in the province is to do some evaluation of the area.
“We are doing some inspection, we are evaluating the place for some possibility and their site,” he said.
The Vatican official also confirmed that the Pope is coming to the Philippines, “Yes, we are very sure he will come.”
Cornvini is likewise not certain if the Holy Father will be in the country on Jan. 15, 2015, as earlier reported.
“We are still evaluating; it is not yet confirmed. It will be confirmed eventually by the Pope himself,” he said.
It was reported that Pope Francis will be visiting the country early next year, after his trip to Sri Lanka. However, it was not yet announced how long he will stay in the Philippines.