Minister of Religion: Pope Francis Set to Visit Indonesia on September 3, After Waiting 2 Years

Minister of Religion: Pope Francis Set to Visit Indonesia on September 3, After Waiting 2 Years
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Pope Francis, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, will visit Indonesia in September, Indonesia's religious affairs minister said, amid growing concerns about the 87-year-old pontiff's health.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo, whose term is coming to an end, has invited the Pope to visit Indonesia in June 2022. The invitation was extended as part of efforts to promote religious tolerance, given Indonesia's status as one of the countries with the largest Muslim population in the world.

Indonesian Religious Affairs Minister Yaqut Cholil Qoumas, in an official statement from the Ministry of Religious Affairs, said the government had received notification from Vatican authorities about Pope Francis' planned visit.

“After waiting for two years, Pope Francis finally will come to Indonesia. I believe this will be a special gift for the Catholics,” Qoumas said at an event in Central Java, Indonesia, on Saturday (March 30).

Based on a letter the Indonesian government received from the Vatican, Qoumas revealed that Pope Francis is scheduled to arrive in Indonesia on September 3, 2024, according to the ministry's website.

"This will be an honor for Indonesia," he added.

According to the Pew Research Center, Indonesia is home to 242 million Muslims and about 29 million Christians, of whom about 8.5 million identify as Catholics.

In addition to the planned visit to Indonesia, Pope Francis is also scheduled to visit Papua New Guinea in August, the country's foreign minister Justin Tkatchenko confirmed in January. Vatican sources also mention plans for the Pope to visit Timor-Leste in the same month.

Since his election by the cardinals in 2013, Pope Francis has made 44 international trips. He is scheduled to visit Belgium later this year and is likely to visit Argentina, his native country.

Concerns about Pope Francis' health have increased following the sudden cancellation of a major Good Friday procession. In a brief statement on March 29, the Vatican announced that Pope Francis would participate in the Stations of the Cross at the Colosseum from his residence at the Santa Marta Residence in order to protect his health before the Easter Vigil and Sunday Mass.

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