Pope Francis said in an interview published Friday that he has several international trips in mind for 2022, as he picks up pace following a slower schedule during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking to Télam, Argentina’s national news agency, Pope Francis said that he would like to visit “the Congo and Hungary” next year, though he admitted the ideas have not yet reached the planning stages.
Pope Francis made a stop of less than a day in Hungary’s capital city, Budapest, on Sept. 12, for the final Mass of the International Eucharistic Congress, before making a longer visit to Slovakia.
In March, he went to Iraq, his first international trip since the start of the coronavirus outbreak.
In the Oct. 22 interview, the pope said that in 2022 he would like to make trips to Papua New Guinea and East Timor, which had been planned for late 2020 before they were canceled because of the pandemic.
For the rest of 2021, Pope Francis confirmed that a trip to Cyprus, which a local official said would take place Dec. 2-3, is still on his program.
“The first weekend in December I am going to go to Greece and Cyprus,” the pope confirmed to Télam, noting that the final agenda of the trip was still being worked out.
The Vatican has not officially announced the trip. But in an interview broadcast on Sept. 1, the pope said he hoped to visit the eastern Mediterranean island nation of Cyprus, which has a population of around 875,000 people, including approximately 10,000 Catholics.
It is rumored that the trip could also include a stop on the Greek island of Lesbos, which Pope Francis visited in April 2016, bringing back 12 refugees to Rome with him.
Close to the coast of Turkey, Lesbos is affected by the European migrant crisis, and has several large refugee camps. In 2020, fires broke out at the overcrowded Moria camp, causing many migrants to flee.
Francis had also indicated in the Sept. 1 interview with Spain’s COPE radio station that he hoped to travel to Glasgow, Scotland, for the 2021 U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP26) in early November.
But the Vatican, which had never officially confirmed the visit, indicated earlier this month that the pope will not attend.
Matteo Bruni, director of the Holy See press office, said on Oct. 8 that the Vatican’s delegation to COP26 will be led by Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin.
Pope Francis, who will turn 85 on Dec. 17 and underwent colon surgery in July, has visited 54 countries during the eight and a half years of his pontificate.
He visited 11 countries in 2019 before his travels were halted in 2020 due to the pandemic. His four-day trip to Iraq in March 2021 was his first international trip after a pause of 15 months.
Source: The Catholic World Report