Pope says planning pastoral visit to Egypt

Pope announces plans to visit Egypt

 VATICAN CITY--Pope Francis was quoted as saying on Thursday that he plans to make a pastoral visit to Egypt, among highlights of a constellation of foreign trips the Vatican is preparing for the pontiff.

 In an interview with the German newspaper Die Zeit, the pope revealed his travel plans for the coming months. So far, Francis is booked to visit India, Bangladesh, Colombia and Fatima in Portugal, in addition to Egypt. If the pope does make the trip to Egypt, it will require a huge security operation, given the ongoing presence of the Islamic State in the country. 

 The pontiff told the German periodical that he would like to add to this already busy timetable, keen to make a trip to war-torn South Sudan, where the Anglican, Presbytarian and Catholic bishops are anxious to receive him. Recognising the risk factor of the visit, however, Francis explained at his Sunday question and answer session at Rome’s All Saints Anglican Church that he would not visit alone, likely to be accompanied by Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.

 While the pope is studying the possibility of visiting South Sudan, and indeed sees it as very important, he has no plans to make a trip to Russia in 2017, as that would require visiting Ukraine too. He also refuses to visit the Democratic Republic of Congo while Kabila is still in power, although it is part of the Vatican’s program.

 Francis certainly has ambitious plans for the year, but whether he manages to go ahead with them, specifically those involving South Sudan, remains to be seen.