Vatican releases schedule for Pope Francis’ two-week trip to Asia and Oceania

GA6263 Pope Francis waves to pilgrims at his General Audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Wednesday, June 26, 2024 | Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Pope Francis will travel more than 20,000 miles over the course of seven flights during his ambitious 12-day trip to four countries in Southeast Asia and Oceania this September.

At the age of 87, the Holy Father is set to take on his most ambitious international trip yet, which will be the longest of his 11-year pontificate.

The Vatican published Friday the full schedule for the pope’s trip to Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, East Timor, and Singapore from Sept. 2 to 13.

The first stop on his Southeast Asia tour is Indonesia, home to the largest Muslim population in the world, where he will preside over an interfaith meeting in Jakarta’s Istiqlal Mosque.

After a 13-hour flight and day of rest in the Indonesian capital, Francis will meet with the country’s President Joko Widodo on Sept. 4 and deliver a speech to political leaders at the Istana Merdeka Presidential Palace. 

The pope will also visit Jakarta’s Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption to meet with bishops, priests, religious sisters, and seminarians after meeting privately with local Jesuits. 

More than 29 million Christians live in Indonesia, 7 million of whom are Catholic, while Indonesia’s 229 million Muslims make up more than 12% of the global Muslim population. Nearly all of Indonesia’s Muslims are Sunni.

The pope’s second full day in Jakarta begins with an interreligious meeting in the Istiqlal Mosque, the ninth-largest mosque in the world. 

Pope Francis will conclude his time in Indonesia with a Mass on the evening of Sept. 5 in Jakarta’s Gelora Bung Karno Stadium, which has a seating capacity of 77,000, after meeting with beneficiaries from local charitable organizations.

On Sept. 6, he will travel nearly 3,000 miles to Papua New Guinea’s sprawling capital of Port Moresby.

Pope Francis will visit local ministries that care for street children and persons with disabilities on his first full day in Papua New Guinea on Sept. 7, which also includes a speech to the local political authorities and an address to the local clergy at the Shrine of Mary Help of Christians.

The following day, the pope will meet with Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister James Marape before presiding over Sunday Mass in Port Moresby’s Sir John Guise Stadium.

He will then fly to Vanimo, a city in the northwesternmost province of Papua New Guinea, where he will greet local missionaries and address local Catholics in front of the Holy Cross Cathedral before flying back to the capital city Sunday night.

Pope Francis will travel on Sept. 9 to the small country of East Timor, which has a population that is more than 97% Catholic. 

In Dili, the country’s capital, Pope Francis will visit children with disabilities, meet local clergy and religious in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, give a speech at the Presidential Palace, and preside over Mass in the Esplanade of Taci Tolu over the course of two days.

The pope’s final stop before returning to Rome will be the island of Singapore, the country with the highest GDP per capita in Asia and the second-highest population density of any country in the world.

Pope Francis will be welcomed to Singapore’s world-renowned Changi International Airport on Sept. 11. He will meet President Tharman Shanmugaratnam and Prime Minister Lawrence Wong on Sept. 12 before presiding over Mass in Singapore’s SportsHub National Stadium, the third stadium Mass of the trip. 

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On his last day in Asia, the pope will preside over an interreligious meeting with young people in Singapore’s Catholic Junior College and visit a group of elderly people. He will make the 6,000-mile journey back to Italy on a chartered Singapore Airlines flight scheduled to land in Rome at 6:25 p.m. on Sept. 13.

The nearly two-week venture will be the pope’s first international trip in 2024. Francis has slowed down his travel schedule in recent months as health and mobility issues, from a knee injury to recurring bronchitis, have forced him to cancel some public appearances, including his last planned foreign visit to Dubai. 

Pope Francis is also scheduled to make a four-day trip to Belgium and Luxembourg at the end of September.

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