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Estimated 4-6 million turnout at Luneta papal mass

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MANILA, Nov. 17, 2014—Between four and six million people are expected to attend the Eucharistic celebration to be presided over by Pope Francis at the Quirino Grandstand, Luneta on Jan. 18 next year.

The said Mass will formally conclude the pope’s apostolic visit to the country before he heads back to the Vatican the following day, Jan. 19.

Pope Francis will go on a pastoral and state visit to the Philippines after his trip to Sri Lanka in mid-January 2015. (Photo: CNA)

According to Ambassador Marciano Paynor, a member of the papal visit central committee, as well as of the National Organizing Council of the 2015 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the estimate does not include “curious” people who will line up the streets of Manila during the papal motorcade and attendees of another Mass near the Tacloban airport.

Filled streets

“The estimate is between four and six million people in Luneta…We are expecting streets and roads to be filled with people,” Paynor told Church-run Radyo Veritas in a recent interview.

This being the case, the former Philippine ambassador to Israel added that one of the challenges confronting papal visit organizers is the crowd that will force its way to the pontiff, putting his safety at risk in the process.

Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa had earlier assured the Filipino public the Philippine government is making necessary preparations to ensure the safety of Pope Francis while in the country.

The most recent papal visit, that of Pope St. John Paul II in 1995, had attracted around five million people—“the largest papal crowd in history”—says the Guinness World records.

Themed “Mercy and Compassion”, Pope Francis’s upcoming apostolic visit to the Philippines scheduled on Jan. 15 to 19, 2015 is a rare event, which local Church officials predict will give Filipino Catholics a much-needed spiritual transformation.

Itinerary

The pope’s official Philippine itinerary is as follows:

• Jan. 15, 2015

Arrival from Sri Lanka – Villamor Air Base Motorcade to the Apostolic Nunciature – Taft Avenue, Manila

• Jan. 16, 2015

Welcome Ceremony – Malacañan Palace, Manila Motorcade to the Cathedral-Basilica of the Immaculate Conception (Manila Cathedral); Mass with Bishops, Priests, and Religious – Cathedral-Basilica of the Immaculate Conception (Manila Cathedral); Motorcade to the Mall of Asia Arena, Pasay Encounter with Families – Mall of Asia Arena, Pasay

• Jan. 17, 2015

Departure for Archdiocese of Palo – Villamor Air Base Arrival at Tacloban Airport Holy Mass – Tacloban Airport Lunch with the Poor and Survivors of Calamities at Gonzagahaus (Residence of the Archbishop of Palo) – Palo, Leyte Blessing of the Pope Francis Center for the Poor – Palo, Leyte Meeting with the Priests and Religious at Cathedral of Our Lord’s Transfiguration (Palo Cathedral) – Palo, Leyte Departure for Manila Arrival at Manila – Villamor Air Base

• Jan. 18, 2015

Brief Meeting with the Religious Leaders and Encounter with the Youth – Pontifical University of Santo Tomas, España, Manila Motorcade to Rizal Park, Manila Concluding Mass, Rizal Park, Manila

• Jan. 19, 2015

Motorcade from the Apostolic Nunciature Departure for Rome – Villamor Air Base

Meanwhile, Manila Archbishop Luís Antonio G. Cardinal Tagle invites the faithful to an upcoming Advent recollection he is set to give on Dec. 7 at Ateneo de Manila University (AdMU)’s Blue Eagles Gym to spiritually prepare them for the apostolic visit. (Raymond A. Sebastián)

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