Philippines: Pope too busy to visit, says Manila archbishop

Manila, 9 May (AKI) - Pope Benedict XVI has told Filipino bishops that he is too busy to travel to Asia’s largest Catholic country.

Manila archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales sent a formal letter to the Vatican last July to invite the pontiff to visit the country.

“The reply was categorically 'No' for the timebeing due to many schedules that have been filled up,” said the chairman of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, Archbishop Angel N. Lagdameo on Friday.

Some 83 percent of the Philippines’s 87 million people are Catholic, making the country the fourth largest Catholic country in the world after Brazil, Mexico and the United States.

According to a recent research 68 percent of the population attends church every week.

“Probably, when he has time, Pope Benedict surely would love to visit Asia, particularly Asia’s largest Catholic country,” said Lagdameo.

Benedict recently completed his first visit to the US and in July he is due to travel to Australia for the World Youth Congress and to France in September.

The previous two pontiffs, Paul VI and John Paul II both visited the Philippines.

When Pope John Paul II died in 2005, Philippine president Gloria Arroyo declared three days of national mourning and attended the Pope's funeral in the Vatican.


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