Vatican City, Oct 27, 2015 / 08:42 am
Milan's archbishop, Cardinal Angelo Scola, made an informal announcement Tuesday that Pope Francis will visit the archdiocese May 7, marking the first papal visit there since 2012.
"With joy and emotion we announce that Pope Francis, accepting our invitation, will be among us in Milan May 7," Cardinal Scola announced in an Oct. 27 statement, posted to the diocese of Milan's website.
The Pope's visit, he said, "is a delicate sign of affection and esteem for the Ambrosian Church, for the city of Milan and for all of Lombardy."
Cardinal Scola made the initial announcement of the papal visit during an Oct. 27 meeting with Lebanese Maronite Patriarch Béchara Boutros Raï.
Milan is the second largest city in Italy, and serves as the capital of the country's northern Lombardy region. The last Pope to visit Milan was Benedict XVI in 2012, when he traveled to the diocese June 1-3 for the 7th World Meeting of Families.
In his statement, Cardinal Scola said the diocese is grateful to the Pope, "who will come to confirm us in the faith as his Petrine Ministry demands; a ministry of personal and ecclesial love."
"All those who, people and social subjects, live the Milanese and Lombardian reality – we are certain – will welcome this great gift with gladness."
Cardinal Scola noted how the Pope's visit will take place within the context of the Jubilee for Mercy, which is set to begin Dec. 8, on the feast of the Immaculate Conception.
The Holy Year will show "the closeness of the Church, in truth and charity, to every man and woman, of every age, state and culture," he said, noting that this proximity to the people of God was communicated in a special way during the recent Synod of Bishops on the Family, which closed Sunday.
Pope Francis' presence will help the Milanese people "to better understand and implement the purpose of the Pastoral visit to take place in our Church," the cardinal said.
"Each community, while verifying their path, feels encouraged to recognize themselves as the presence of the Catholic Church, that is, universal, because it is missionary for all men, for each person in this season of transition and compassion, of tribulation and sanctification."
The cardinal explained that the diocese is already preparing for the Pope's visit with prayer, and will meet tomorrow morning to begin organizing the preparations.
Each person, he said, priests, religious and laity included, should turn to Mary and "ask God for the grace of conversion so that the papal visit is for all a tangible sign of the loving presence of Jesus, died and risen for us."