Vatican City, Jan 19, 2015 / 12:10 pm
Pope Francis has revealed that he hopes to make extensive voyages to Africa and Latin America in the next two years.
"The plan is to go to Central African Republic and Uganda. These two, this year," Pope Francis said during a press conference Jan. 19 on his return flight to Rome from the Philippines.
The Pope's revelation comes in response to a French journalist aboard the flight.
Pope Francis said the trip to Africa is "a bit overdue." He said he would have traveled to Africa sooner, if not for the Ebola epidemic.
"It is a big responsibility to hold big gatherings, (because of the possibility of) contagion, no? But, in these countries there is no problem," he said.
The latest World Health Organization estimates suggest the Ebola outbreak has killed more than 8,500 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The incurable disease has a high mortality rate.
Pope Francis said Central African Republic and Uganda are still "hypothetical" destinations, but he confirmed that a trip to Africa "will be this year."
He clarified that he will go later in the year to avoid the rainy season.
During the in-flight press conference, Pope Francis also confirmed plans to make two separate visits to South America over the next two years.
A trip to South America this year could include stops in Ecuador, Bolivia, and Paraguay. While, a possible visit in 2016 or 2017 could include stops in Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, and Peru.
The trip would be Pope Francis' first visit to his home country of Argentina since his election to the papacy in March of 2013.
Vatican spokesperson Fr. Federico Lombardi was quick to clarify that the travel plans are still in the beginning stages.
"Everything is provisional, nothing is decided yet," Fr. Lombardi said.