Pope plans trips to India and Mongolia after Lisbon and Marseille
ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE — Pope Francis said on Sunday he plans to visit India next year and is exploring a possible trip to Mongolia later in 2023 in what would be a first for a pope.
Francis outlined his upcoming travel schedule on his flight back to Rome from South Sudan.
He confirmed that he would be in Lisbon, Portugal, for World Youth Day the first week of August and that he would participate in a meeting of Mediterranean bishops on September 23 in Marseilles, France.
He said there was “the possibility” that he would fly from Marseilles to Mongolia, which would be a first for a pope.
Looking further ahead, Francis said he believed he would visit India in 2024, after plans for a 2017 trip fell apart.
Francis spoke to reporters after a six-day visit to Congo and South Sudan, where he was joined in the South Sudanese capital, Juba, by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Church Moderator of Scotland, the Rt. Rev. Iain Greenshields.
Catholic, Anglican and Presbyterian leaders made another joint visit to urge South Sudan’s political leaders to make progress in implementing a stalled 2018 peace deal that ended a post-independence civil war of the country of Sudan in 2011.
Welby and Greenshields joined Francis on the papal plane and took part in his aerial press conference, during which they were asked if they would also be willing to join Francis on future trips.
Welby said he would be “delighted” if it could help, joking that the papal plane was “the best airline I have ever flown on”.
Greenshields was also enthusiastic but noted that his term ended in May.
In a nod to the almost all-male Vatican delegation that accompanies Francis on his trips abroad, Greenshields stressed that he would be replaced by “a very capable woman” as moderator of the Church of , Reverend Sally Foster-Fulton, an American. The Church of Scotland has ordained women ministers since the 1960s.
“She would love to do the same,” he said.
The Vatican delegation, made up mainly of cardinals and bishops, traditionally includes only one woman: a protocol expert at the Vatican Secretariat of State. During this trip, François also invited as a personal guest a Congolese nun.
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