Pope cancels visit to RP
- Sandy Araneta () - August 27, 2002 - 12:00am
Pope John Paul II has canceled his January 2003 planned visit to Manila, a spokesman for Archbishop of Manila Jaime Cardinal Sin announced yesterday.

"The Vatican Secretary of State, His Eminence, Angelo Cardinal Sodano, has formally conveyed to the Archbishop of Manila the sad news that His Holiness Pope John Paul II will not be able to attend the World Meeting of Families in Manila," Bishop Socrates Villegas said in a statement.

The Pope was to have visited Asia’s only predominantly Roman Catholic nation from Jan. 23 to 26, and one of the highlights was to have been an address to an international conference on strengthening families. It would have been the Pope’s fourth visit to the Philippines.

No reasons were given, but Church officials have previously said the visit would depend on the Pontiff’s health.

The 82-year-old Pope made a four-day visit to his homeland Poland last week, but is in poor health. He told residents in Krakow that it was his farewell visit.

"Let us pray for the health and well-being of the Holy Father," Villegas said, adding that the Pope has already prayed for the success of the conference.

Organizers expected the international conference, to be held at the World Trade Center in Pasay City, to draw 10,000 local and foreign delegates of the Roman Catholic Church.

Up to ten million people are also expected to join the Mass and prayer vigil at Rizal Park in Manila on the last day of the event.

However, with the papal visit canceled, organizer Henrietta de Villa said they now expect the event to draw fewer people. "Especially now in our country we are looking for a savior, someone to look up to," she said.

So far, about 1,500 delegates — mostly from Australia, Italy, the United States and the Vietnam — have registered for the conference.

"We have to do what we can. The World Meeting will still proceed. Families of different countries will still come to the Philippines," Fr. Lito Jopson, of the Archdiocese of Manila, and vice chairman of the organizing committee, told reporters. "The Holy Father might even give a message on video. The Holy Father will always be with us."

Organizers said they were closely working the national police force in mapping out security arrangements.

De Villa said, "We should always show are our solidarity and commitment to the Holy Father."

ANGELO CARDINAL SODANO ARCHBISHOP OF MANILA ARCHBISHOP OF MANILA JAIME CARDINAL SIN ARCHDIOCESE OF MANILA BISHOP SOCRATES VILLEGAS DE VILLA HIS EMINENCE HIS HOLINESS POPE JOHN PAUL HOLY FATHER LITO JOPSON
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