List of pastoral visits of Pope Francis outside Italy

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Pastoral visits of Pope Francis

This is a list of pastoral visits of Pope Francis outside Italy. Pope Francis' visit to the Philippines in January 2015 included the largest papal event in history with around 6–7 million attendees in his final mass at Manila, surpassing the then-largest papal event at World Youth Day 1995 in the same venue 20 years earlier.



 Brazil (22 to 29 July 2013)

Pope Francis visits a favela in Brazil during the World Youth Day 2013.

Francis visited Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for World Youth Day. This was the only scheduled foreign trip for him in the year. Francis was officially welcomed to Brazil during a ceremony at Guanabara palace and met with Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff.[1] Throughout the celebrations, Francis gathered up to 3.5 million pilgrims to celebrate mass at Copacabana Beach.[2] During his vigil address, Francis urged the pilgrims not to be "part-time Christians", but to lead full, meaningful lives.[3] The trip was previously scheduled for his predecessor, Benedict XVI, before his retirement.[4]


 Israel,  Jordan, and  Palestine (24 to 26 May 2014)

Pope Francis waving for the people after the mass in Bethlehem. (By/ Mustafa Bader)

Francis visited Amman, Bethlehem and Jerusalem during his three-day trip to the region from 24 to 26 May. The trip was announced during the Sunday Angelus on 5 January 2014.[5][6] Francis arrived in Jordan on 24 May and after meeting with King Abdullah II, celebrated mass at Amman International Stadium.[7] During his trip, Francis prayed at the Israeli West Bank barrier and also visited the Victims of Acts of Terror Memorial with the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.[8] Francis concluded his tour by meeting with Patriarch Bartholomew I to continue inter-faith dialogue with the Orthodox Church.[9]

 South Korea (14 to 18 August 2014)

Pope Francis travels through Gwangwhamun Square during the beatification ceremony.

Pope Francis arrived in Seoul Air Base on 14 August to start his five-day visit to South Korea on the occasion of the Sixth Asian Youth Day.[10] Upon arrival, Francis was greeted by South Korean President Park Geun-hye.[11] Afterwards, Francis held a private meeting with the families of victims of the MV Sewol ferry disaster.[12] He later made a speech in English, his first as Pope. Speaking at the Presidential Office in Seoul he said "I came here thinking of peace and reconciliation on the Korean Peninsula." [13] Francis held the first public mass of his trip on 15 August in front of a 50,000 strong crowd at Daejeon World Cup Stadium where he asked Koreans to "reject inhumane economic models which create new forms of poverty and marginalize workers."[14] He beatified the first generation of 124 Korean Martyrs in Gwangwhamun Square on front of an estimated crowd of 800,000 people on 16 August.[15] Francis concluded his five-day visit with a Mass for peace and reconciliation of the divided Korean peninsula in Seoul's Myeongdong Cathedral.[16]

 Albania (21 September 2014)

Pope Francis announced in his Angelus address on 15 June 2014 that he would make a one-day visit to the city of Tirana in Albania. He said: "With this brief visit, I want to confirm the Church of Albania in the faith, and bear witness to my encouragement and love for a country that has suffered for so long in consequence of the ideologies of the past".[17] Security concerns were raised in the days before the visit after Iraqi governmental officials warned they had received intelligence reports suggesting Islamic fundamentalists may be planning an attempt on the Pope's life while in Albania.[18]

The 11-hour visit was the first European trip made by Francis. He said in August that he had chosen Albania as the first destination because it has set a model for harmony between the various religions by establishing a national unity government that includes Muslims, Orthodox, and Catholic Christians.

During his stay, he met Albanian President Bujar Nishani, celebrated mass in Mother Teresa square in Tirana, and met with religious leaders, including those of the Muslim, Orthodox, Bektashi, Jewish and Protestant faiths. He also honored those persecuted under the rule of former communist dictator Enver Hoxha. Some 130 Christian clergy died in detention or were executed during the 1944-1985 dictatorship of Hoxha, who declared Albania the world's first atheist state in 1967. Pictures of some of the priests persecuted or executed during the period were hung in Tirana's main Martyrs of the Nation boulevard ahead of the pope's visit. Albania has since seen a revival of Catholicism partly owing to the popularity of Mother Teresa, who had Albanian origins despite being born in what is now Macedonia.[19]

 France (25 November 2014)

Francis making his address to the European Parliament

Pope Francis made a four-hour visit, the shortest made by any pope abroad, to Strasbourg on 25 November 2014, where he addressed the European Parliament and the Council of Europe raising issues such as the dignified treatment of immigrants arriving illegally in Europe and better conditions for workers.[20]

 Turkey (28 to 30 November 2014)

Pope Francis accepted an invitation to visit Turkey at the behest of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in September 2014. This invitation also came from Patriarch Bartholomew I in order to commemorate the feast day of Saint Andrew.[21] Francis arrived at Esenboğa International Airport in Ankara on 28 November where he was met by Turkish dignitaries before he traveled to Anıtkabir, laying a wreath in memory of the Turkish republic's founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.[22] Francis then traveled to the Presidential Palace where he met with President Erdoğan and gave a speech urging interfaith dialogue to counter fanaticism and fundamentalism and called for a renewed Middle-East peace push, saying the region had "for too long been a theatre of fratricidal wars".[23] The following day, Francis visited the Blue Mosque in Istanbul where he prayed silently alongside senior Islamic clerics.[24] Francis concluded his visit with a liturgy in the Church of St. George alongside Bartholomew I, asking for his blessing "for me and the Church of Rome" and also urging the re-unification between the two Churches, telling the Orthodox faithful gathered in St George's that "I want to assure each one of you gathered here that, to reach the desired goal of full unity, the Catholic Church does not intend to impose any conditions except that of the shared profession of faith".[25]


 Sri Lanka and  Philippines (13 to 19 January 2015)

Pope Francis in Colombo, Sri Lanka. 14 January 2015
Pope Francis rides around the faithful after the open air Mass in Tacloban. 17 January 2015

Pope Francis visited Sri Lanka on 13–15 January and the Philippines (15–19) in January.[26][27][28]

In Sri Lanka he paid pastoral visits to Shrine of Our Lady of Madhu in Madhu and Basilica of Our Lady of Lanka.[29]

Pope Francis' visit to Philippines was the fourth papal visit to the island nation. Blessed Paul VI visited Philippines in 1970 and St. John Paul II came in 1981 for the beatifications of then Blessed Lorenzo Ruiz and then Blessed Domingo Ibáñez de Erquicia and returned in 1995 for the celebration of the World Youth Day.

Pope Francis' visit to the Philippines in January 2015 had become the largest papal event in history with around 6-7 million attended his final mass at Manila surpassing the then largest papal event at World Youth Day 1995 in the same venue 20 years earlier.[30][31][32]

 Bosnia and Herzegovina (6 June 2015)

Pope Francis arriving at Koševo Stadium in Sarajevo

Pope Francis announced on 1 February 2015 that he intended to visit Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, on 6 June 2015. His visit placed importance on ecumenical dialogue. It is estimated that 67.000 people visited the event whose height was the mass at Koshevo stadion. Most pilgrims were from Croatia and Bosnia but there were also 1000 pilgrims from Serbia, many groups from Hungary, Slovenia, Macedonia, communities of Croats from Germany, Austria, United States, and group of nuns from Panama and even Egypt.[33]

 Bolivia,  Ecuador, and  Paraguay (5 to 13 July 2015)

Pope Francis in Paraguay

It was announced by the Holy See in May 2015 that Pope Francis would visit Bolivia in July 2015, as well as two other South American countries, Ecuador and Paraguay. Prior to the visit, Bolivian President Evo Morales had confirmed that Pope Francis would meet with indigenous organizations on the sidelines of official functions.[34][35] The schedule released indicated that the pope would be in Ecuador from 5–8 July, Bolivia from 8–10 July and Paraguay from 10–12 July 2015. His return to Rome is scheduled for 13 July 2015.[36][37] The Holy See Press Office's Director, Federico Lombardi, S.J., acknowledged there were reports that Pope Francis might chew coca leaves, or perhaps drink tea made from coca (he ended up drinking coca tea with a couple other ingredients), which in that region is considered sacred by some and is a key crop (it is rich in calcium, protein, and iron, among other nutrients, and could potentially fight altitude sickness- a popular reason for its use, but it is also the main ingredient in cocaine), during the trip, but he stated nothing had been decided yet. Pope John Paul II and Pope Paul VI both had similar experiences, so engaging in this particular cultural custom would not be unprecedented.[38]

In the course of his visit to Ecuador, Pope Francis met President Rafael Correa, visited with priests and seminarians, paid a private visit to a Jesuit priest friend, visited a home for the elderly in Quito and a shrine in the town of El Quinche. His last Mass in Ecuador drew about 1.5 million people.[39] Arriving in Bolivia on 8 July, Pope Francis was received by President Evo Morales at El Alto International Airport near La Paz. In his speech after arrival the pope said among other: "Bolivia is making important steps towards including broad sectors in the country’s economic, social and political life. Your constitution recognizes the rights of individuals, minorities and the natural environment, and provides for institutions to promote them." Later during the meeting in Government palace Morales awarded Pope Francis with the highest Bolivian state decoration, the Grand Cross of the Order of the Condor of the Andes and with the State decoration of Luís Espinal Camps, named after a Jesuit priest and activist known for his commitment to the disadvantaged people of the country, who was murdered by paramilitary forces in March 1980 for his defense of them. He also presented the pope with a crucifix in form of a hammer and sickle, which form the symbol of the Communist Party, which he explained had been a form created by Espinal himself in his efforts to identify with the oppressed poor of that country. This gift immediately proved controversial.[40] The pope also prayed in the place near La Paz where the body of this murdered Jesuit priest was found and by this occasion he highlighted his preaching of the Gospel. Pope Francis visited also the Cathedral of La Paz and after leaving La Paz he traveled to Santa Cruz de la Sierra in the eastern part of Bolivia.[41][42][43][44][45][46][47][48] On 9 July Pope Francis celebrated Mass in Santa Cruz de la Sierra connected with the opening of the Fifth National Eucharistic Congress.[49] He also attended the World Meeting of Popular Movements, taking place in Santa Cruz de la Sierra. This event brought together delegates from popular movements from around the world and there also participated President of Bolivia Evo Morales. Pope Francis expressed in his speech on this event his solidarity with gathered popular movements and their efforts.[50][51]

 Cuba and  the United States (19 to 27 September 2015)

Pope Francis addresses the U.S. Congress.

On 19 September 2015 Pope Francis departed aboard an Alitalia A330 (Shepherd One) from Rome's Fiumicino International Airport, to Havana's José Martí International Airport where he arrived to an official Welcoming Ceremony. The next day, he was the principal celebrant at a Papal Mass at the Plaza de la Revolución in Havana at 9:00, before he paid a courtesy visit to the President of the Council of State and of the Council of Ministers of the Republic at Palacio de la Revolución in Havana. His day ended with celebrations of Vespers with priests, men and women religious, and seminarians, at the Cathedral of Havana, and a greeting to the young people of the "Centro Cultural Padre Félix Varela" in Havana during the early evening.[52]

On 21 September, he departed by plane from Havana for Holguín, to preside at a Papal Mass at Plaza de la Revolución. Before departing for Santiago de Cuba, he gave a blessing to the city, from Loma de la Cruz, in Holguín. Having arrived in Santiago, he met with the Bishops of Cuba at St Basil the Great Seminary, and say a prayer to the Virgen de la Caridad, with the Bishops and the Papal Entourage, at the Minor Basilica of the Shrine "Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre" in Santiago.

On 22 September, he celebrated a Papal Mass at the Minor Basilica of the Shrine "Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre" in Santiago in the morning and later had a meeting with families at Our Lady of the Assumption Cathedral in Santiago. After a blessing of the city of Santiago from the square in front of the Cathedral of Santiago, he left with a farewell ceremony from Santiago Airport, en route to Washington, D.C., where he arrived at Joint Base Andrews during the evening of 22 September 2015.

On Wednesday, 23 September, the pope met with President Barack Obama at the White House. It was the third visit by a pope to the White House, following meetings between Jimmy Carter and Pope John Paul II in October 1979 and George W. Bush and Pope Benedict XVI in April 2008.[53]

Also that day, Francis took part in a prayer with bishops from the United States at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle, the seat of Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the archbishop of Washington. Later that day, he celebrated Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, near the Catholic University of America. During the Mass, he canonized (declared to be a Saint) Blessed Father Junípero Serra, a Spanish Franciscan friar who founded a mission in Baja California, and the first nine of 21 Spanish missions in California.

On Thursday, 24 September, Pope Francis gave an address to a Joint session of the United States Congress, the first Supreme Pontiff to do so. He followed that with a visit to St. Patrick's Church, the oldest parish church in Washington. The church was founded in 1794.[54] He also visited the Washington, D.C. local Catholic Charities office. He then flew from Washington, to New York City. After arriving at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport, he took part with New York's Cardinal Timothy Dolan in Evening Vespers (part of the Liturgy of the Hours), at St. Patrick's Cathedral.

On Friday, 25 September, Pope Francis addressed the United Nations General Assembly. It was the fifth address by a Pope to the U.N. General Assembly, following appearances by Pope Paul VI in October 1965, Pope John Paul II in October 1979 and October 1995, and Pope Benedict XVI in April 2008.

Following the address to the U.N., he participated in an ecumenical service at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, at the former World Trade Center site. In the afternoon, he visited a school in East Harlem, then celebrated a Papal Mass at Madison Square Garden.

On Saturday, 26 September, Pope Francis traveled from New York to Philadelphia, where he was welcomed by city and state leaders and Philadelphia's Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. He celebrated a Papal Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul. He visited Independence Mall in the afternoon, and the Festival of Families of the 2015 World Meeting of Families[55] in the early evening. The Pope's visit concluded on Sunday, 27 September, with a Papal Mass in the afternoon. After a departure ceremony, he departed on a jet for Rome and the Vatican.

In honor of the visit, the Museum of the Bible will sponsor a special exhibition entitled "Verbum Domini II" at the Philadelphia Convention Center, adjacent to the World Meeting.[56]

The official schedule of his visit was announced at the end of June.[57]

 Kenya,  Uganda, and  Central African Republic (25 to 30 November 2015)

Pope Francis stated, aboard the papal plane returning from the Philippines, that he hopes to visit Africa late in 2015 and mentioned the Central African Republic and Uganda as likely sites.[58] The Holy See Press Office confirmed in June 2015 that the pope would visit those two countries.[59] The Vatican confirmed in September that Francis' last trip for 2015 would in fact consist of Kenya, Uganda, and the Central African Republic. The visit started with Nairobi, Kenya (25–27 November), then arrive in Entebbe, Uganda with visits to Namugongo and Kampala (27–29 November), and will finally end the visit in Bangui, Central African Republic (29–30 November) where he spent 39 hours before flying back to Rome.[60][61] Pope Francis' visit to the Central African Republic, which is in a state of a civil war, made him the first pope to enter an active war zone.[62]

On Wednesday, 25 November, Pope Francis arrived at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi aboard an Alitalia A330 ("Shepherd One") at approximately 4:32 pm EAT, about 30 minutes ahead of schedule, where he was welcomed by members of the Government of Kenya, led by President Uhuru Kenyatta and First Lady Margaret Gakuo Kenyatta, and a number of Catholic bishops, led by Cardinal John Njue, Archbishop of Nairobi. A band of traditional dancers also performed while the pope arrived.[63] Pope Francis and his entourage then headed to the State House, where he was honored with a 21-gun salute and a guard of honour from the Kenya Army, before holding private talks with President Kenyatta and other government officials. There, he also met with former presidents Daniel arap Moi and Mwai Kibaki, as well as the Kenyatta family.[64] After the meetings, President Kenyatta and Pope Francis each addressed the nation from the lawn of the State House. During his 11-minute speech, the pope touched on the importance of the youth and the environment, addressing poverty and inequality, reconciliation, and peace.[65][66] After, Pope Francis boarded his popemobile and headed to the Apostolic Nunciature in Westlands, Nairobi, his residence during his visit in Kenya.[67]

The following day, Thursday, 26 November, Pope Francis participated in an interfaith dialogue with local faith leaders at the Apostolic Nunciature, where he apprised the importance of interfaith dialogues as "essential" for preventing radicalization and religious attacks, mentioning the Westgate shopping mall attack in September 2013 and the Garissa University College attack in April 2015 to which the jihadist group Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for.[68] Later that morning, Pope Francis headed to the University of Nairobi campus, where he celebrated his first papal Mass in Africa with an estimated crowd of 1.4 million people. In his homily, the pope urged Kenyans to support families and inclusive societies and "resist practices which foster arrogance in men, hurt or demean women and threaten the life of the innocent unborn."[69][70][71] In the afternoon, Pope Francis met with Kenyan priests, seminarians, and devotees at the field of St. Mary's School. In his speech addressing them, the pope stressed the importance of consecrated life that is only achieved by "staying true to the calling" and their commitment to service. He also urged the priests, seminarians, and devotees to continue the act of prayer and to avoid "the sin of indifference and lukewarmness," saying that "indifference makes God vomit."[72][73] After his speech, Pope Francis headed to the United Nations Office at Nairobi, where he delivered a speech addressing the staff on climate change ahead of the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, saying that "it would be 'catastrophic' if particular interests prevailed over the common good of people and the planet or if the conference were manipulated by business interests" and urging world leaders at the conference to reach an agreement over the limitations of carbon footprint and environmental degradation.[74][75] He also warned Africans on the effects of ivory trade and conflict resource to Africa's natural environment, linking the illegal trafficking activities to organized crime and terrorism.[76][77]

On Friday, 27 November, Pope Francis visited the residents of the Kangemi slum, where he presided over a Mass celebrated by the residents at their local church.[78] The pope criticized the "new colonialism" of injustice and "urban exclusion" faced by the Kenyan slums, including the lack of infrastructure and basic services such as education, electricity, sewage treatments, drinking water, and healthcare, as well as inadequate housing and the treatment of children to criminal gangs.[79][80] Later that morning, Pope Francis met with the Kenyan youth at the Moi International Sports Centre in Kasarani, where he answered some of the youth's testimonies regarding issues faced by the Kenyan youth, including corruption, issues on tribalism, religious fanaticism, and radicalization. He urged the Kenyan youth to avoid the temptation of corruption, saying: "Corruption is something that gets inside of us, it's like sugar. But it ends badly. When we have too much sugar, we end up with diabetes, or our country ends up being diabetic."[81] He also discussed with the Kenyan youth the importance of education and jobs to prevent radicalization and the recruitment of the youth to join militant groups.[82][83] In the afternoon, Pope Francis headed to the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to depart Nairobi for Uganda. The pope was sent off by President Kenyatta, First Lady Margaret, Deputy President William Ruto, Senate Speaker Ekwee Ethuro, several other Kenyan government officials, and a number of Catholic leaders. Traditional dancers and the Kenya Defence Forces band performed as the pope departed. Pope Francis and his delegation departed Nairobi at approximately 3:51 pm EAT aboard an Alitalia A330 ("Shepherd One").[84] He arrived at the Entebbe International Airport an hour later, where a military band played the Vatican and the Ugandan national anthems and traditional drummers and dancers were performing while he was welcomed by President Yoweri Museveni, First Lady Janet Museveni, and a number of Catholic bishops.[85] He then headed to the State House for a brief meeting with President Museveni and South Sudanese President Salva Kiir Mayardit.[86]

On Saturday, 28 November, Pope Francis headed to Namugongo to visit the Munyonyo Martyrs Shrine decicated to the Uganda Martyrs, a group of 45 Christian converts in Buganda who were burned to death in the late 19th century for refusing to renounce their faith under Kabaka Mwanga II.[87][88] President Museveni initially invited the pope to visit Uganda in October 2014, the 50th year anniversary of the canonization of the Uganda Martyrs, but declined due to prior commitments.[89] He then celebrated Mass with an estimated crowd of 1.5 to 2 million people to honor the martyrs. Among the attendees were President Museveni, President Kiir of South Sudan, and Rwandan President Paul Kagame, as well as descendants of Kabaka Mwanga II.[90][91] During the celebrations, Pope Francis urged the audience to follow the zeal of the Uganda Martyrs in their mission by "taking care of the elderly, the poor, the widowed and the abandoned."[92] In the afternoon, Pope Francis headed to the unused Kampala Airport for a meeting with around 150,000 of the Ugandan youth, where two youths delivered testimonies to the pope regarding the challenges faced by the Ugandan youth, particularly the tribulations of conflict and the spread of HIV to the youth.[93][94] He later visited the House of Charity in Nalukolongo, a home for the poor, sick, and disabled, to meet with them.[95]


 Cuba and  Mexico (12 to 18 February 2016)

Pope Francis celebrates a Mass at San Cristobal de las Casas in Mexico.

Pope Francis, on 7 June 2014, accepted an invitation to visit Mexico at the behest of the Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto. In October 2015 it was confirmed by the Vatican spokesman that the pope would travel to Mexico in early 2016. It was also confirmed that Pope Francis would visit the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City.[96][97] On 1 November 2015, Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, Archbishop of Mexico City, confirmed the pope's visit and said the pope would arrive on 12 February 2016.[98] It was confirmed that, besides Mexico City, Pope Francis would also visit the cities of Ecatepec, Tuxtla Gutiérrez, San Cristobal de las Casas, Morelia and Ciudad Juárez.[99]

On 12 February 2016, Pope Francis, and Patriarch Kirill, of the Russian Orthodox Church, met at José Martí International Airport near Havana, Cuba, and signed a thirty-point joint declaration (Joint Declaration of Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill), prepared in advance, addressing global issues including their hope for re–establishment of full unity.[100][101] The meeting was facilitated by the Cuban leadership who proposed Cuba as a neutral place for the two religious leaders to meet.

 Greece (16 April 2016)

On 5 April 2016 sources reported Pope Francis would visit the Greek island of Lesbos in support of the thousands of refugees who are there awaiting asylum, or who have passed through the island on their way to Europe and beyond. The pope reported that such a visit was under consideration.[102] It was announced not long after that the pope would make a one-day visit to the island on 16 April 2016.[103]

 Armenia (24 to 26 June 2016)

President Serzh Sargsyan of Armenia extended an official invitation to Pope Francis to visit Armenia in 2015, which the pontiff readily accepted, expressing his sincere desire to visit the country. No date was given for the visit.[104] It was confirmed in 2015 that the pope would visit Armenia sometime in 2016.[105] The visit was originally believed to take place in April, but in February 2016 was reported to potentially take place in September with corresponding visits to Azerbaijan and Georgia.[106] In March 2016, the Vatican made it clear that a potential visit to Armenia was likely to take place in the latter half of June, though was still in initial planning stages.[107] It was announced in a press bulletin of 9 April 2016 that the pope would visit Armenia from 24 to 26 June after formally accepting the invitations extended to him.

 Poland (27 to 31 July 2016)

Pope Francis in silent prayer at Auschwitz

Pope Francis visited Kraków, Poland, the city where Karol Wojtyła had served as the archbishop, from 27 to 31 July 2016 on the occasion of World Youth Day 2016. Wojtyła was later elected Pope John Paul II, and canonised after his death. The pope took the opportunity to visit the Auschwitz concentration camp where he spent time in silent prayer and visited the cell of Saint Maximilian Kolbe. Afterwards, he met with several Holocaust survivors before leaving the camp.

 Georgia and  Azerbaijan (30 September to 2 October 2016)

Pope Francis in Georgia, arriving to the Patriarchy of the Georgian Orthodox Church

It was reported in early 2016 that a potential visit to Georgia and Azerbaijan could take place in September 2016 alongside a possible trip to Armenia. It was later reported that it was still in the initial planning phases and that nothing was set concretely. It was announced in a press bulletin of 9 April 2016 that the pope would visit those countries from 30 September to 2 October after receiving formal invitations from the civic authorities and Ilia II of Georgia. The pontiff’s journey began on Friday in Georgia, where he was met at the airport by Patriarch Ilia II, the head of the Georgian Orthodox Church. While in Georgia, Pope Francis reached out to the Georgian church, despite an apparent snub by Orthodox leaders who declined to attend a Mass he held Saturday in a largely empty stadium in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, after they also discouraged followers from attending. The apparent courtship extended to comments on marriage in which he embraced ideas held dear by the Georgian Orthodox Church. Without addressing homosexuality directly, he criticized “ideological colonization”—shorthand for the influence of foreign ideas on traditional values—for contributing to an assault on the institution of marriage. In a visit to Georgia’s predominantly Muslim neighbor Azerbaijan, the pope focused on interreligious dialogue and tolerance, steering clear of direct criticism against the increasingly authoritarian presidency of Ilham Aliyev. Under Mr. Aliyev, Azeri authorities have arrested scores of human-rights workers and members of political opposition groups, and have worked to cut local rights groups off from foreign funding while boosting the president’s power. In an address to the president, the pope emphasized the importance of not “abusing the rights of others who have different ideas and perspectives,” but otherwise praised the leader for efforts to promote civic growth.

 Sweden (31 October to 1 November 2016)

In January 2016, sources reported that Francis would travel in October to Sweden for an ecumenical ceremony marking the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.[108] It was later made official on 25 January 2016 that in the last week of October 2016 the pope would travel to the country for the commemoration as a one-day visit though later altered to include another day so that the pope could celebrate a Mass with the small Catholic numbers in Sweden.[109]

In Sweden he met the Church of Sweden's archbishop Antje Jackelén.[110]


 Egypt (28 to 29 April 2017)

President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi invited the pope to visit the nation in November 2014, when the pair met; the pope agreed to the visit. Pope Tawadros II also invited the pope to visit. The official ambassador delivered a formal invitation to the pope in June 2015.[111] It was announced on 18 March 2017 that the pope would indeed visit Egypt from 28 to 29 April.

Pope Francis visited Egypt from 28 to 29 April 2017,[112] as "a messenger of peace".[113] On his first day in Egypt, he arrived in Cairo and met with President Sisi.[114] He later attended a peace conference at Al Azhar University in Cairo and met with various religious leaders,[115][116] including the Grand Imam of Al Azhar Sheikh Muhammad Ahmed al-Tayeb and Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Pope Tawadros II.[117][115] At the Saint Mark's Coptic Orthodox Cathedral, which was bombed in Palm Sunday 2017 and serves as Tawadoros' Seat, the two popes signed a joint declaration which mutually declaring "not to repeat the baptism that has been administered in either of our churches for any person who wishes to join the other".[118] He also held an ecumenical prayer service with Tawadros and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I at the St. Peter and St. Paul's Church, which was bombed by terrorists on 11 December 2016.[119][120]

The next day, he celebrated a Mass with approximately 15,000 people at Cairo's Air Defence Stadium.[121]

 Portugal (12 to 13 May 2017)

Pope Francis presides over the canonization of Francisco and Jacinta Marto in Fátima, Portugal on 13 May 2017.

Bishop Antonio Marto announced that on 25 April 2015 the pope confirmed that he would visit Fátima in Portugal to mark the centenary of the apparition of Our Lady of Fatima. It was also made known that the government and Portuguese Episcopal Conference extended invitations to the pope. Pope Francis will also canonize Francisco and Jacinta Marto, two of the three seers of Fatima.[122][123] It has been reported that the visit could take place from 11-14 May (in which the pope would visit Lisbon, Fátima and Braga) and could include the canonization of Bartholomew of Braga; the schedule was debunked when the pope himself stated that at the present time he shall only be there for one day in Fátima only, though a November 2016 report indicated it could be a two-day visit.

He arrived in Portugal on 12 May 2017 for a two-day visit after landing at Monte Real Portuguese Air Force base and was greeted by Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.[124] The Pope then held a private meeting with Sousa before holding a service at the base's chapel.[124] He then traveled by helicopter to the Sanctuary of Fátima,[124] where he prayed in front of a statue of the Madonna and held an evening prayer in front of the tens of thousands of pilgrims at the Sanctuary's Chapel of the Apparitions.[124] He later presided over the traditional Blessing of the Candles in front of the Chapel's Our Lady of Fatima statue.[124] The next day, the Pope met with Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa and prayed in front of the tombs of Francisco and Jacinta Marto.[125] He then canonized both Francisco and Jacinta Marto as Catholic saints while presiding over a mass for hundreds of thousands of pilgrims at the Sanctuary's Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary;[125] more pilgrims attending the mass were located in Basilica's large square.[125]

 Colombia (6 to 10 September 2017)

Pope Francis reportedly intended to visit Colombia at the earliest possible chance. It was believed that it would occur during his 2015 Latin America tour, but it was revealed that it would occur at some other point in the future.[126] In January 2016, it was announced that a possible date for a potential visit would be sometime in 2017.[127] It was later confirmed in January 2016 that the pope would indeed visit Colombia in 2017.[128] The president has stated the pope's visit shall occur in the first quarter of 2017.[129] However, it was announced on 10 March 2017, that the trip was scheduled to occur from 6 to 11 September.[130] His visit hopes to help solidify the Colombian peace process and encourage reconciliation.[131]

Pope Francis arrived at Bogota International Airport on 6 September and was greeted by Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, First Lady Maria Rodriguez, and the apostolic nuncio to Colombia, Ettore Balestrero, at the airport's adjacent air base.[132] Randoms attendee also greeted him at the airport with many waiving white handkerchiefs to symbolize morale for the peace process.[133] The son of former Vice Presidential candidate Clara Rojas, who was born in 2004 when his mother was still under FARC captivity,[133] gave him a dove.[133] Many reported mobbed the Popemobile as it drove the Pope to the country's Vatican Embassy in Bogota and some tossed Francis flowers and held up children for him to kiss.[133]

On 7 September, Francis traveled from the Vatican Embassy to the Presidential Palace to endorse the peace in a message to President Santos and Colombia's political, cultural and economic elite.[134] He then arrived at the Bogata Cathedral where he led a mass which was attended by tens of thousands which encouraged reconciliation and the young to help lead the role in promoting forgiveness to heal country from its long struggle with the FARC rebellion;[134] the Pope's crowd was hard reportedly hard to restraint as he arrived at Plaza Bolivar outside the Cathedral as well.[134] At a message at the Bogota Archbishop's residence, Francis addressed Colombia's Bishops and encouraged them to play an important role in the peace process and uniting the local Catholic Church in a time of major division.[134] Pope Francis later lead a Mass at Bogota's Simon Bolivar Park,[134] which was once again attended by a crowd of tens of thousands and encouraged peace and national reconciliation.[134] Later in the day, Francis returned to the Vatican Embassy and held a meeting with Cardinal Jorge Urosa, the Archbishop of Caracas, Venezuela,[134] and the other Venezuelan Bishops as well;[135] Cardinal Urosa described the current crisis in Venezuela as "very grave" and earlier in an interview with Bogota daily El Tiempo, the Venezuelan Cardinal described Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro as "a dictator."[134] The Pope also held a meeting with top cardinals and bishops from Latin America and the Caribbean to stress the vital role women play in the Catholic Church's survival,[134] even noting the role his grandmother played in his own faith formation,[134] while also insisting that the Church's ban on female clergy would remain intact.[134]

On 8 September, Pope Francis produced a letter by former FARC leader Rodrigo Londono, better known by his nom de guerre of Timochenko,[136] asking for forgiveness[136][135] In his latter, Londono, who published the letter on the social media,[136][135] stated that he hoped would convince Francis to understand that the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia were always motivated by a sincere desire to stand up for the nation's poorest and most-excluded citizens.[136][135] Later in the morning, Pope Francis arrived in Villavicencio.[136][135] At Catama Field,[137] tens of thousands of people gathered to see Pope Francis personally beatify two Colombian Catholic martyrs, Bishop Jesús Emilio Jaramillo Monsalve of Arauca and the "Martyr of Armero" Rev. Pedro María Ramírez Ramos,[135] and lead a Mass encouraging peace,[136][135] national reconciliation,[136][135] and forgiveness.[138] The Pope also visited Avalanche survivors in the town of Mocoa,[139] located near Colombia's border with Ecuador, and also donned a blue striped poncho given to him by 10 local residents.[139] Later, approximately 6,000 people filled Villavicencio's Las Malocas Park,[140] located on the edge of the Amazon,[136] where the Pope hosted a Homily promoting national reconciliation.[140] At his Homily, the Pope heard personal testimony from at least two ex-FARC fighters and two Colombian conflict survivors,[139] urged cooperation,[139] and embraced victims and ex-fighters standing at the foot of the ruined torso of a statue of Christ that was rescued from a church destroyed in a 2002 mortar attack in Bojaya.[139]

On 9 September, Pope Francis arrived in Medellin and consoled orphans, the poor and sick — while also demanding that priests and ordinary Colombians look beyond rigid church doctrine to care for sinners and welcome them in.[141] Many cheered wildly and waved white handkerchiefs and Colombian flags as Francis zipped around the grounds in his Popemobile at an unusually fast clip to make up for lost time from a rain delay which forced him to cancel his planned helicopter flight and instead travel by land down the Andes, delaying the Mass by nearly an hour.[141] During the Mass, which took place at Medillin's Enrique Olaya Herrera Airport and was held in both Latin and Spanish,[142] Francis urged Colombia's conservative church to look beyond rigid rules and norms of church doctrine to go out and find sinners and minister to them.[141] After the Mass, the Pope went to an orphanage to meet with abandoned children and the sick.[141] He also had a meeting with priests, seminarians, nuns and their families in Medellin's La Macarena stadium before returning to Bogota for the night.[141]

On 10 September, Pope Francis visited the port city of Cartagena,[143] where a delay in his schedule occurred after swarms of well-wishers caused him to lose balance while hanging onto the popemobile's hip-high bar and resulted in a bruised, black left eye, bruised cheekbone and a cut on his eyebrow that dripped blood onto his white cassock and which also required bandaging.[143] He blessed the first stones of two institutions that will be built: one will offer a home to homeless people,[144] and the other will house work of the Talitha Kum, an international network of the consecrated life, that helps the victims of human trafficking.[144] He then visited a woman in a poor neighborhood of Cartagena identified as Mrs. Lorenza,[144] who reportedly welcomes people in need daily,[144] providing them with food and affection,[144] [143] [145] [143] After receiving medical treatment[144] the Pope then visited the St. Peter Claver church, where he praised the 17th century missionary for having recognized the inherent dignity of slaves,[143] recalling that the saint used to wait for the ships from Africa that brought the men and women forced into slavery to what was then the main center of commerce in slavery in the New World.[144] He also denounced modern day human trafficking as a form of modern-day slavery as well.[143][144] The Pope also called for an end to political violence in Venezuela and protection for the poor hurt by the nation's "grave" economic crisis.[145]

At approximately 7:30 pm on 10 September, Pope Francis left Colombia after an emotional farewell in which he was serenaded by the lively, traditional rhythms of the country*s Carnival.[145] Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos was on hand in Cartagena on Sunday to accompany Francis on the red carpet to the airliner which carried him to Rome.[145] Wrapping up his five-day visit, the pope made a final appeal to Colombians to reconcile under the peace deal signed last year between the government and the biggest rebel group aimed at ending to end Latin America's longest-running conflict. The Colombian President also pledged to Pope Francis that Colombia will keep its doors open to thousands of Venezuelan exiles even as it works to find a political solution to its neighbor's crisis.[145] Santos also says he told the pope in their final encounter Sunday that "Colombia will always be a welcoming land" and that he also gave Francis a pin of a symbolic peace dove that Santos has worn since the start of negotiations with leftist rebels several years ago.[145]

 Myanmar and  Bangladesh (27 November to 2 December 2017)

On 2 October 2016, the pope stated that it was almost certain that he would undertake an apostolic visit to both India and Bangladesh sometime in 2017 as part of a tour to Asia yet hopes for a trip to India faded in 2017 since a visit could not be properly planned.[146] Cardinal Patrick D’Rozario of Dhaka in Bangladesh announced that the dates for the pope's visit to Bangladesh and Myanmar would be from 23 November to 8 December, though he was cautious about confirming Myanmar as the second destination for the pope’s Asia swing.[147]

The Holy See Press Office confirmed the visit would take place in a bulletin issued on 28 August 2017. His trip to Myanmar occurred between 27 and 30 November and followed by a trip to neighboring Bangladesh between 30 November and 2 December.[148] He was also be the first Pope to visit Myanmar.[148] The full programme was finalized on October 10,[149] and included trips to the capital city of Naypyidaw and Yangon[149] while in Myanmar and Bangladesh’s capital, Dhaka, on the second leg of Pope Francis' trip.[148] He held masses,[149] visit various areas such as the Bangabandhu Memorial Museum and the local Mother Teresa House,[149] and met with various government officials of both countries,[149] including Htin Kyaw,[149] Aung San Suu Kyi,[149] and Abdul Hamid,[149] hold meetings and give homages,[149] and Abdul Hamid,[149] and also meet with others such as Catholic clergy,[149] young people,[149] civic society members,[149] and the Supreme Council of Buddhist monks.[149]


 Chile and  Peru (15 to 21 January 2018)

The President of Chile Michelle Bachelet extended an invitation to the pope for a possible visit to the nation in 2016, and while it was most probable that the pope would go there in 2016, it was denied and has been determined to take place sometime in the future.[150] On 19 June 2017, the Vatican announced that Pope Francis would visit both Chile and Peru between 15 and 21 January 2018.[151] Starting in Chile on 15 January, the pontiff will go to the cities of Santiago, Temuco and Iquique.[151]

On 21 March 2017 the President of Peru Pedro Pablo Kuczynski sent a letter to Pope Francis inviting him for an official visit. [152]

"Your Holiness, receive a warm greeting from Peru, a country now hit by climatic phenomena undoubtedly from global warming, which deeply appreciates their closeness and prayers. I am committed to the social revolution that I announce at the beginning of my mandate: education, water, health, housing and work or as Your Holiness has said: roof, earth and a job... We know that Your Holiness is planing a new visit to our region, and I want to encourage you to visit Peru, a country of historic faith and a deep Andean heart."

— Letter from President Kuczynski to Pope Francis

In 19 June 2017 the President and the Chargé d'Affaires of the Apostolic Nunciature of the Holy See in Peru Grzegorz Piotr Bielaszka announced in a press conference from the seat of the Peruvian Episcopal Conference that Francis will visit Peru in January 2018 and that the Minister of Labor Alfonso Grados would be responsible for the preparations.[153] The Pontiff will visit the cities of Lima, Trujillo and Puerto Maldonado. Finally, President Kuczynski announced he will travel to Rome in September to make the official invitation to the Pope in the Vatican City.

Upcoming visits


 India (2018)

Pope Francis indicated at the end of 2016 of his desire to visit India and Bangladesh though a visit to India could not be planned for 2017 as was hoped. Cardinal Oswald Gracias said a visit could not be planned for 2017 because the schedules of the pope and Prime Minister Modi needed to align meaning a visit could not take place in November as was anticipated. But Cardinal Gracias said a visit would take place in the first half of 2018.

 Ireland (22 to 26 August 2018)

Pope Francis personally chose Ireland to be the next host of the next World Meeting of Families scheduled for 2018, indicating his desire to visit around that time.[154] It was confirmed in May 2016 that the pope mentioned his intention to visit Ireland for the event and reconfirmed on 29 November 2016 during a meeting between the pope and the head of state.[155]

 Estonia,  Latvia, and  Lithuania (16 to 18 September 2018)

It was announced in November 2017 by the apostolic nuncio to Estonia that Pope Francis would travel to the nation in the autumn sometime, with September being provided as a possible date. It was further related a week after that the pope would also be visiting neighboring Latvia and Lithuania; he would travel to all three to celebrate the centenary of their independence from Russia. The official confirmation for the visit will be made, according to media reports, in December 2017.[156][157]

 Romania (2018)

In May 2015, the President of Romania Klaus Iohannis invited the pope to visit the nation, which the pope agreed to do, although a date must be decided upon first before such a visit could go ahead.[158] The visit shall most likely take place in 2018 to commemorate the centenary of the Great Union; the Romanian episcopate remained adamant in 2017 that the pope would most likely visit in late 2018, and would beatify seven martyrs of Communism while visiting.[159]


 Panama (22 to 27 January 2019)

Pope Francis is expected to visit Panama on the occasion of World Youth Day 2019 though the exact location for the event was not announced. The venue was announced on 31 July 2016 at the end of the previous event held in Kraków, Poland.

Unscheduled visits

 South Sudan

South Sudanese bishops invited the pope to visit during an audience to which the pope said that he would do so when another visit to the continent would be prepared.[160] The pope himself, in early 2017, alluded to his desire to go to visit South Sudan if the security conditions were feasible for him to go, he also revealed the episcopate and others in the country asked him to make a joint visit with the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby. It was later reported in March by a bishop that, should security pose no obstacle, the pope would go in October coupled with other countries to visit. On 30 May 2017, the Vatican spokesman Greg Burke announced that Pope Francis had officially cancelled the trip due to security concerns though said the pope still intended to go when the situation permitted him to do so.[161]


Before he departed Brazil after W.Y.D. 2013 the pope announced that he would return to Brazil in 2017 to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the appearance of the Virgin of Aparecida.[162][163] It has been reported the visit could take place sometime in October to commemorate the anniversary itself and may include the canonization of the Martyrs of Natal though it was later reported to have been thrown into doubt and would not happen in 2017 though could at a later time.

 Czech Republic

President Miloš Zeman extended a visit to the pope who accepted to visit for an ecumenical meeting with leaders of the Orthodox Church. The president stated that the visit would occur in 2018. No such announcement for a visit has yet been made.[164]


The Vatican announced that an official papal visit to France would take place where the pope would travel to Paris and to Lourdes. It was believed it would take place in 2015 but will in fact be placed on hold until 2018; plans for that however were later dropped to prioritize other nations.[165][166]


Pope Francis has reportedly accepted an invitation from Tony Tan, the President of Singapore, to visit the country, although no date has been set.[167]


Pope Francis is reported to have accepted to visit Germany soon when he was invited by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Joachim Gauck.[168]


Pope Francis has reportedly accepted an invitation from Moncef Marzouki, the President of Tunisia, to visit that country, although no date has been set.[169]


Pope Francis confirmed to Ukrainian bishops in their ad limina visit that he would go to Ukraine for a papal visit. It was reported that an invitation by President Petro Poroshenko was also conveyed to the pope.[170]


Prime Minister Shinzo Abe invited the pontiff to visit Japan in his visit on 6 June 2013. The pope expressed his willingness to go there.[171] It was reported on 30 July 2016 that the Holy See was considering a potential papal visit to Japan in 2017 while reporting that the government hoped that the pope would be able to visit mid-year to coincide with his potential visit to Indonesia.[172]


King Felipe VI extended an invitation to Pope Francis to visit Spain in 2015 upon his visit in June 2014. The pope expressed his desire to visit but it was confirmed in 2015 he would not visit since he did not wish to interfere with elections. It has been hinted the visit could take place in 2016.[173]


Pope Francis reportedly expressed his desire to visit Nigeria according to President Goodluck Jonathan after the pair met in 2013.[174]


Pope Francis stated in November 2014 that he would want to visit Iraq according to Archbishop Bashar Warda but that his staff would not allow it for some time.[175]


The President invited the pope to visit Croatia to which the pope agreed; the visit would occur likely in 2017. There was the possibility that the pope could canonize Blessed Aloysius Stepinac.[176]


In 2013 President Nicolas Maduro invited the pope to visit the nation to which the pontiff accepted. The pope also intends to beatify José Gregorio Hernández while he visits.[177]


The pope received an invitation in 2015 from seminarians to visit Belarus, and he said he would attempt to visit at some point during his pontificate.[178]


Sudanese bishops invited the pope in a January 2016 audience to visit their nation at some point to which the pope replied that he would do so during his next visit to the African continent.[160]


Pope Francis was reported to have accepted an invitation from President János Áder to visit Hungary to commemorate Saint Martin in 2016; the date was moved with alterations to the papal schedule.[179][180]


The pope was said to have received an invitation in March 2013 from Sir William Deane (former Governor-General) after his installation as pope and indicated his strong desire to visit Australia. [181]

 Dominican Republic

According to an official statement, the pope received an invitation from Tourism Minister Francisco Javier Garcia to visit; the pope expressed a keen interest in visiting the island nation.[182]


In a 2013 audience with Thailand's Prime Minister, the pope accepted an invitation to visit the nation though no date was given as to when it would take place.[183]

 United Kingdom

It has been reported in February 2016 that the pope has reportedly set aside time in September 2016 for a one-day visit to Scotland to join other leaders in taking a stand against violent extremism. This potential visit is reportedly "under consideration" though is likely to take place.[184]


It was reported on 3 August 2016 that the pope is considering a possible visit to Denmark on 1 November 2016 following his visit to Sweden; it was likewise reported that the Vatican had requested for a formal invitation so that such a visit could indeed take place.[185]


President Marie Louise Coleiro Preca of Malta extended an official invitation to Pope Francis to visit Malta. The Pope did not commit himself, and no date was given for the visit.[186] It was confirmed in 2015 that the pope would visit Malta sometime in 2016 though the visit did not occur due to the pope cancelling most visits for the 2016 Jubilee of Mercy.[187]


On 23 February 2016 during a private audience, the Pope accepted the invitation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to visit the nation sometime in 2016. The visit was to occur in March though was reported to be undertaken later in the year, however, the Jubilee of Mercy saw the Pope cancel most international visits; it will be confirmed sometime in the future.[188]

 United Arab Emirates

In June 2016, the pope received and accepted an invitation to visit the United Arab Emirates and the Holy See sent a letter to the nation's officials confirming a visit would take place at some point in the future.[189]


Pope Francis received an invitation from the Serbian Prime Minister to visit the nation after the Serbian Orthodox Church stated there were no objections to such a visit and the pope was reported to have accepted as soon as was possible.[190]


Pope Francis was set to visit his nation and two neighbor countries during the bicentennial of the 1816 Argentine Declaration of Independence but it never took place. The date was also selected to be after the 2015 presidential elections, to avoid interfering with it.[191] It was speculated that the pope would canonize Jose Gabriel del Rosario Brochero during his visit to Argentina but this was debunked since the canonization took place in October 2016 and the visit moved either to May or June 2016; this too was debunked since President Mauricio Macri said the visit could not be slotted into the pope's agenda and thus could take place in 2017. Pope Francis himself issued a video message to the nation in October 2016 in which he said he could not visit the country in 2017, though it could take place at the earliest in 2018.


Pope Francis has expressed his intention to visit Uruguay, and the visit was said to have been penciled in for 2016 though never happened. Cardinal Sturla has expressed the pope's wish to visit at some stage.[192]

 Cape Verde

The apostolic nuncio to Cape Verde said to journalists that the pope might visit the nation sometime in 2017 as part of an African tour - the pope himself referred to a visit to Africa though the nuncio was adamant that the visit would occur.[193]


On the "exposition of Jesuit Saint Francis Xavier", the Indian territory of Goa sought to have Pope Francis visit there at some stage in 2014.[194]


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External links

Media related to Franciscus in foreign countries at Wikimedia Commons

  • Official webpage from the Vatican: Apostolic Voyages outside Italy
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