Source: Vatican Media
Pope Francis has a busy schedule planned for 2019, with many overseas trips and major meetings.
In January, Pope Francis holds his annual meeting with the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See, an occasion he often uses to issue a strong message to the international community. Last year, the Holy Father used the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a springboard to remind the world that many human rights are violated even now in the third millennium, especially the right to life.
The Pope begins his travels in 2019 on 23-28 January with an Apostolic Journey to Panama for the 34th World Youth Day. In a video message sent in November, see: www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2018-11/pope-francis-message-to-young-people-for-world-youth-day.html#play - he invited young people to get off the couch and to improve the world through their dreams, ideals, and courage.
February will be particularly busy for the Holy Father. On 3-5 February, Pope Francis becomes the first Pope to visit the United Arab Emirates. The Journey's central theme surrounds interreligious dialogue and solidarity amongst members of different faiths. The leaders of the UAE declared 2019 as a "Year of Tolerance" with the goal of promoting a culture free of religious fundamentalism.
On 18-20 February, the 28th meeting of the Council of Cardinals takes place in the Vatican. The focus will be on the revision of the Constitution of the Roman Curia, Pastor Bonus. A new proposal was presented last December to Pope Francis, under the title "Praedicate evangelium". Its goal is to help the Vatican's governing body become more responsive to the need of a missionary Church.
Probably the most-awaited papal event of 2019 takes place in the Vatican on 21-24 February. Pope Francis will meet all Presidents of Bishops' Conferences to discuss how to prevent the abuse of minors and vulnerable adults. It promises to be a pivotal meeting in the fight against sexual abuse, as well as abuse of power and conscience, which are carried out by some members of the Church. Speaking to the Roman Curia in December 2018, Pope Francis said no excuse for following the path of truth and justice will be tolerated.
On 30-31 March, Pope Francis travels to Morocco, 33 years after Pope St John Paul II's historic visit on 19 August 1985 to Casablanca. The Pope will continue in his predecessor's path of promoting mutual comprehension and inter religious dialogue between Christians and Muslims.
After a short rest in April, the Holy Father heads across the Adriatic Sea to visit Bulgaria and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia on 5-7 May. In Bulgaria he will visit the cities of Sofia and Rakovski. Then he travels to the Macedonian city of Skopje, where Mother Teresa of Calcutta, founder of the Missionaries of Charity, was born. Catholics in these two Balkan nations are a tiny minority amidst the Orthodox majority, so promoting ecumenism will be high on the Pope's to-do list.
Though there has been no official confirmation, Pope Francis openly told a group of Japanese visitors to the Vatican that he hopes to travel to Japan in 2019. During the encounter, the Pope recalled that, in 1585, a group of four Japanese young people arrived in Rome with several Jesuit missionaries to visit Pope Gregory XIII.
Later in the year, the Synod of Bishops meets in October to discuss the Pan-Amazonia region. The Pope called the special assembly on the theme 'Amazonia: New Paths for the Church and for an Integral Ecology'. Seven Bishops' Conferences from nine nations will be taking part.
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