Pope Benedict XVI could make a stopover in a Spanish-speaking Latin American country during his visit to the region for World Youth Day Rio 2013.
According to reports in the Italian media, three countries--Colombia, Panama and Chile--are vying for the chance to host the pontiff as he makes his way to Brazil next year.
The Colombian government has already extended an invitation to the Pope, which was echoed by a group of bishops making their ad limina visit to the Holy See on June 22. According to the Italian daily La Stampa, the Pope responded, “God will decide.”
The newspaper also reported that Panama is also interested in hosting a papal visit in 2013 to mark the 500th anniversary of the creation of the first diocese in the Americas, Santa Maria La Antigua in Panama.
The bishops of Panama have convened a special Jubilee Year which will begin this year on November 28 to celebrate the occasion. The prefect of the Congregation for the Bishops and the president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, will be the Holy Father’s special envoy for the event.
La Stampa reports that Panama’s vice chancellor, Francisco Alvarez De Soto, invited the Pope to visit his country during a meeting with the Pope in May. The Holy Father’s response was once again, “It all depends on God.
Chile’s Ambassador to the Holy See, Fernando Zegers Santa Cruz, issued his own invitation to the Pope on June 20, repeating the invitation made by President Sebastian Pinera in March of 2011 to visit Chile.
The success of the Pope’s visit to Mexico and Cuba in March of this year makes the possibility for an additional stopover in Latin America more likely.