The Vatican announced today that due to Pope Francis’ busy schedule during the Jubilee of Mercy, he has decided to postpone his May 7, 2016, visit to the diocese of Milan until the following year. A Dec. 10 communique from the Vatican announced that Milan’s Archbishop, Cardinal Angelo Scola, received a note from the Secretariat of State saying that due to “the intensification of the Jubilee commitments,” Pope Francis has decided “to postpone his pastoral visits in Italy.” “As a result, the visit to Milan already officially scheduled and announced for May 7, 2016, will be postponed until the year 2017.” Cardinal Scola informally announced the Pope’s visit to Milan in an Oct. 27 communique posted on the diocese’s website, after first making it known during a meeting with Lebanese Maronite Patriarch Béchara Boutros Raï earlier that morning. In the statement, the cardinal said that the Pope’s visit would be “a delicate sign of affection and esteem for the Ambrosian Church, for the city of Milan and for all of Lombardy.” He expressed his confidence that the people who live in the Milan and Lombardy regions of Italy would welcome the “great gift” of the Pope’s visit with joy. Milan is the second largest city in Italy, and serves as the capital of the country’s northern Lombardy region. The last Pope to visit Milan was Benedict XVI in 2012, when he traveled to the diocese June 1-3 for the 7th World Meeting of Families. Though Pope Francis has decided to push back his visit to Milan, at least two international trips still remain on his schedule for 2016. In late July the Pope is scheduled to visit Krakow, Poland for World Youth Day, which holds the theme: “Blessed are the Merciful, for they shall obtain Mercy.” Francis will also visit Mexico early next year. The Pope himself confirmed the trip to reporters while on the way to Kenya Nov. 25, telling journalist Valentina Alazraki that his trip to Mexico would include four cities, including Ciudad Juarez on the Mexican-U.S. border. Although the Holy See Press Office still hasn’t officially announced the trip, rumors and reports and have been steadily building. On Nov. 1 Cardinal Norberto Rivera, Archbishop of Mexico City, announced that Pope Francis would visit Mexico the week of Feb. 12. Among the Pope’s newest commitments for the Holy Year is that he will make a private “sign” on “one Friday of every month.” He will also hold one extra general audience a month on a Saturday. Pope Francis officially inaugurated the Jubilee Dec. 8 on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception by opening the Holy Door in St. Peter’s Basilica. It will close Nov. 20, 2016, the Solemnity of Christ the King.
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