Pope’s visit to PNG deferred to September

Photo: Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales

Pope Francis, head of the Catholic Church visit to Papua New Guinea is now pushed back to September this year.

According to Cardinal Sir John Ribat, Archbishop of Port Moresby, the Pope’s visit previously proposed for August is now deferred due to certain circumstances.

“The Pope’s visit previously scheduled to be three days – from 23-25 August is now moved to 06 – 09 September 2024. This is the new proposed date for the visit,” Cardinal Sir John said.

Prime Minister James Marape also extended invitation to Pacific Islands leaders who wish to meet Pope Francis during the visit in September later this year.

At the 2024 MSG Budget Foreign Ministers Meeting on 28th March 2024 in Port Vila, Minister for Foreign Affairs Justin Tkatchenko relayed the message that a formal invitation will be sent to all Pacific Island Leaders.

“The visit of Pope Francis to PNG is highly anticipated and seen as a significant event for the country.

“It will mark Pope Francis’ first ever visit to the Pacific region, highlighting the Vatican’s recognition of the region’s importance,” Tkatchenko said.

He said the invitation demonstrates the government’s commitment to engaging with the Pacific Island countries and fostering closer relationships.

“As the host of this momentous visit, and by inviting the leaders of the Pacific Island countries, PNG aims to promote unity and cooperation within the region,” the minister said.

Tkatchenko also said the event will provide an opportunity for leaders to engage in diplomatic discussions, cultural exchanges, and potentially strengthen trade partnerships.

He said Prime Minister Marape has identified the Pacific region as a priority area for PNG’s foreign policy agenda, recognising the shared challenges and opportunities faced by the island nations. While specific details of the visit have not yet been disclosed, it is expected to be a historic event that will leave a lasting impact on PNG and the Pacific Island countries. The formal invitation, once sent, will provide further clarity on the details and schedule of the visit.