Pope may visit Korea in August, Vatican says

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Pope may visit Korea in August, Vatican says

VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis may go to South Korea in August, 20 years after Pope John Paul II last visited the Korean Peninsula.

The Rev. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, said Wednesday that Francis has been invited to attend a meeting of young Asian Catholics in August and that a trip is “under study.”

Asian Youth Day, the regional version of the Catholic Church’s World Youth Day, is scheduled for Aug. 10 to Aug. 17 in Daejeon.

Lombardi said the Vatican was also considering another papal trip to Asia, to the Philippines and Sri Lanka, though not this year.

Francis told reporters last summer en route to Rome from World Youth Day in Brazil that he wanted to go to Asia precisely because Pope Benedict XVI never managed to make it to the continent during his eight years as pope, aside from a quick trip to Turkey in 2006.

Francis specifically mentioned the invitations he had received from the Philippines and Sri Lanka.

The globe-trotting John Paul made several trips to Asia during his 26-year papacy.

He canonized 103 Korean martyrs during a May 1994 trip to South Korea that kicked off a 10-day odyssey, which included stops in Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Thailand.

Asked about other reports of possible travel, Lombardi said Francis had been invited to attend ceremonies in Sarajevo in June to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I, but that no decision had been made.

He confirmed an invitation to visit Uganda, but said it did not appear on the pope’s agenda at this stage.

Francis will visit Jordan, Israel and the West Bank from May 24 to May 26, the one foreign trip that has been confirmed so far for 2014. 

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