MANILA — Minutes after Pope Francis’ flight to Rome left Villamor Airbase in Pasay City, a top official of the Catholic Church expressed hopes that the pontiff will be back in the country soon.
Manila Archbishop Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle said the Catholic church wished that the Holy Father would consider attending the 51st International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) in Cebu City in January 2016.
“The Philippines will host on January next year the 51st International Eucharistic Congress in Cebu. Will the Pope come again? For that? We hope,” the cardinal said.
Tagle said the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) had already invited the Pope.
“We will see. But there’s already an invitation for the Pope to come to the Eucharistic Congress,” he said.
Prior to the just concluded five-day Papal Visit, the Holy Father had been invited to grace the international gathering in Cebu next year, which was originally scheduled in May 2016.
The IEC is an international gathering of people aimed at promoting an awareness of the central place of the Eucharist in the life and mission of the Catholic Church.
The Catholic Church event was moved to January 2016 upon the request of the Vatican citing the prior engagements in May of Pope Francis.
On the other hand, the Apostolic and State Visit was set from Jan. 15 to 19 after Pope Francis expressed his desire to be with the victims of super typhoon “Yolanda”.
On Monday morning, Pope Francis left the country after his successful visit to the Philippines.
A Vatican official said that the Pope was impressed on the faith shown by the Filipino faithful during the Concluding mass at the Quirino Grandstand in Manila on Sunday afternoon.
Fr. Federico Lombardi, Vatican Spokesman noted that the number of attendees was overwhelming.
“If this is true, this is the largest event of the history of the popes. Before, in Manila, there were 4 or 5 million. Now, 2015, 6 or 7 million. (Imagine) next time we come back to Manila… in any case, it was really, really impressive,” Lombardi said.
A total of five million people attended the World Youth Day in January 1995.