By Philippe Vaillancourt Catholic News Service
PHILADELPHIA (CNS) — Now that Pope Francis’ trip to the United States has ended, many wonder when he will visit Canada, as he has been invited to visit Montreal in 2017.
Asked about this possibility, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said there is no plan to visit Canada at the moment.
“I understand your desire to see the pope in your city (Montreal), and you have the right to hope,” a smiling Father Lombardi said in French during a news conference in Philadelphia Sept. 27.
He immediately added that he is not aware of any “concrete plan for a trip to Canada.”
Earlier this year, Pope Francis was invited to visit Montreal in 2017 by Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre, Montreal Archbishop Christian Lepine and Quebec Prime Minister Philippe Couillard. The biggest French Canadian city will celebrate the 375th anniversary of its foundation in 2017.
Father Lombardi reminded that, for now, only two papal trips are confirmed: Africa in November, and Poland in July for World Youth Day. He said other papal trips are just “suppositions.”
Invited to comment on the possibility that Pope Francis might visit Canada’s “peripheries,” Father Lombardi said Pope Francis cares “for everyone.” He added that, just like the pope did in the United States and Latin America, he would surely pay close attention to Canada’s “peripheries” if he ever visits.
In Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families and papal visit, Archbishop Paul-Andre Durocher of Gatineau, Quebec, said there was no confirmation from Rome for a Canadian trip.
“What I see from Francis is a desire to meet the peripheries, the marginalized,” said Archbishop Durocher, immediate past president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. “If he comes to Canada to visit these peripheries, it would be wonderful.”
When asked what those peripheries would be, the archbishop mentioned people from the First Nations, immigrants, the poor, and victims of sex abuse by clergy members.
Archbishop Lepine noted that Pope Francis “just completed a 10-day trip in Cuba and the United States that no one saw coming,” adding that people need to expect the unexpected with this pope.
St. John Paul II visited Canada three times as pope: 1984, 1987 and 2002.