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Saturday, January 25, 2014

Vatican Says: Pope Francis Will Visit Philippines Soon

The Vatican has confirmed that the Philippines, the 3rd largest Catholic country in the world, is on Pope Francis' list of countries to visit by 2015. The Philippines is one of 2 nations in Asia with predominantly Roman Catholic population,  the other being East Timor. In general the Philippines has the strongest Christian influence in Asia. In 2011 it was estimated that there were 75.5 million Pilipino Catholics or roughly 80% of the country's population. Other countries being considered for a potential papal visit are South Korea this year and Sri Lanka also in 2015. The Vatican spokesperson categorically denied any other trips aside from the ones mentioned. On the return flight from Rio following the World Youth Day celebrations last year, Pope Francis emphasized the need for him to go to Asia apart from his visit to the Holy Land, which was recently scheduled for next May. In Vatican City Pope Francis said the internet is a "Gift from God" that facilitates communication. In a statement released Thursday, the pope warned however that the obsessive desire to stay connected can actually isolate people from their family and friends. Francis made the observations in a message about Catholic Church communications, meditating on the marvels and perils of the digital era and what that means for the faithful going out into the world and interacting with people of different faiths and backgrounds. Francis said the internet offers "immense possibilities" to encounter people from different cultural and traditional backgrounds and show solidarity with them. He called for communications in the digital era to be like "a balm which relieves pain and a fine wine which gladden hearts" and for the church's message to not be one of bombarding offers with Christian dogma.        
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