Indonesia says Pope Francis planning visit

Indonesia says Pope Francis planning visit

September trip would also include Singapore and East Timor

Pope Francis addresses the public during his weekly general audience in St Peter’s Square at the Vatican, on Wednesday. (Photo: Reuters)
Pope Francis addresses the public during his weekly general audience in St Peter’s Square at the Vatican, on Wednesday. (Photo: Reuters)

JAKARTA - Indonesia’s foreign minister said on Wednesday that Pope Francis was planning a visit to the predominantly Muslim country and discussions were ongoing with the Vatican about the trip.

“Yes, Pope Francis plans to visit Indonesia. We are currently preparing everything now,” Retno Marsudi told Reuters, but provided no timeframe.

The Vatican’s foreign minister, Archbishop Paul Gallagher, said in an interview last month with the Jesuit magazine America that Pope Francis planned to visit Indonesia, Singapore, East Timor and Papua New Guinea in early September, and possibly Vietnam.

The Vatican has yet to confirm dates for the Asia trip, which would be one of the most taxing for Francis, who is 87 and whose health has been poor recently, forcing him to cancel some engagements including some Easter events last week.

Indonesian media reports, citing the religious affairs minister, have said Francis would visit in September.

Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim nation and its 8 million Catholics represent about 3% of the total population of about 270 million.

The Philippines and East Timor are the only predominantly Catholic countries in Asia.

Indonesia has been visited by two popes before. Pope Paul VI came to Jakarta in 1970 and Pope John Paul II visited Jakarta and four other cities in 1989.

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