Pope plans to travel to Asia in September, Vatican confirms

Pope Francis meets Jesuit priests from Indonesia during his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Sept. 21, 2022. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis is planning to make the longest trip of his papacy in September, visiting Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste and Singapore, the Vatican press office announced.

During the 12-day Asian tour, the press office said April 12, he intends to visit: Jakarta, the Indonesian capital, Sept. 3-6; Port Moresby and Vanimo, Papua New Guinea, Sept. 6-9; Dili, the capital of Timor-Leste, Sept. 9-11; and Singapore Sept. 11-13.

The last papal trip announced by the Vatican -- a visit to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Dec. 1-3 for the U.N. climate conference -- was canceled three days before Pope Francis was scheduled to leave because he was suffering from bronchitis.

The longest foreign trip Pope Francis has made was his September 2015 visit to Cuba and the United States. Vatican News, which tracks the length of papal trips by both days and distance, said the 2015 trip lasted eight days, 23 hours and 45 minutes and covered a distance of 19,171 kilometers, which is close to 12,000 miles.

The Vatican did not mention the possibility of the 87-year-old pope extending the trip to include Vietnam.

Archbishop Paul R. Gallagher, the Vatican foreign minister, was visiting Vietnam April 9-14. According to Vatican News, he discussed a possible papal trip to the country when he met April 10 with Prime Minister Pham Minh Chính, Foreign Minister Bùi Thanh Son and Home Affairs Minister Pham Thi Thanh Trà.

In an Italian television interview Jan. 14, Pope Francis said, "In August I have to make a trip to Polynesia." It was widely assumed he was referring to a trip originally planned for 2020 to Timor-Leste, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and perhaps other countries, but plans were scrapped because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ten days later, the foreign minister of Papua New Guinea said his government had received an "official note" that Pope Francis intended to visit the country for three days in August, but the director of the Vatican press office had said plans for a trip were in the "very preliminary" stages at that point.

Pope Francis would be the third pope to visit Indonesia. St. Paul VI visited in 1970, and St. John Paul II went to the country in 1989 on a trip that also included Timor-Leste. St. John Paul II made two brief visits to Papua New Guinea in 1984 and 1995.

The Polish pope, who set an absolute record for both the number of countries he visited and the number of trips he made, had spent five hours in Singapore in 1986 during a trip that included Bangladesh, Fiji, New Zealand, Australia and the Seychelles.


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