The Vatican announced earlier today that Pope Francis has decided to pay a private visit to an evangelical pastor who is a close friend from his time in Buenos Aires, but currently lives in Italy. On the morning of July 26, a Saturday, the Roman Pontiff will travel to the province of Caserta in the Campania region of Italy for a casual visit with pastor Giovanni Traettino. The idea of making the visit to pastor Traettino’s church of the Reconciliation in Caserta originally sprang from an encounter Pope Francis had with a group of evangelical pastors in the Vatican last month, during which the pontiff expressed his desire to visit the pastor’s church. The visit “will be a strictly private, simple and quick” encounter, the July 10 statement from the Vatican explained. Caserta lies in southern Italy and is a prominent agricultural, commercial and industrial commune. It is roughly a 2 and half-hour drive from Vatican City. Pope Francis’ visit to Caserta will mark his third trip to an Italian city outside of the Vatican this summer. On June 21 the Bishop of Rome traveled to the town Cassano all'Jonio, where he spoke harsh words against the region’s ongoing problem with organized crime. He also met with priests, seminarians and religious of the diocese, encouraging them to serve with joyful fraternity, and ate lunch with the poor and young residents of the region’s drug rehabilitation center. He ended the trip by visit the elderly in a retirement community and celebrating Mass. July 5 the Roman Pontiff traveled to Campobasso and Isernia, where he met with students and staff of the city’s university, urging greater collaboration in finding creative solutions to the economic crisis, which has hit the region particularly hard. He also praised the example that working mothers give in their challenging balance of work and family life. Following his morning audience, Pope Francis again ate lunch with the poor, after which he met with youth from the cities of Abruzzo and Molise. He then traveled to Isernia where he met with prison inmates, and was later received by local authorities for the launch the Celestinian Jubilee Year. Pope Francis’ next scheduled trip is his Aug. 14 — 18 trip to South Korea, which will follow the theme “Rise Korea, clothe yourself in light, the Lord’s glory shines upon you.”
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