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Rome Reports

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What to expect of Pope Francis' trip to Sri Lanka and the Philippines

Pope Francis will kick off 2015 traveling to Sri Lanka and the Philippines from January 12 to 19. Back in 2009, Sri Lanka put an end to a civil war that lasted 25 years. Now many hope Pope Francis will boost national reconciliation and peace. F. PRASAD HARSHAN Sri Lankan Priest "The tears of the people are still drying and it will take some time for them to actually heal the wounds of war. It's going to be a wonderful event. Touching all the corners and all the hearts of the people.� One of the highlights of the trip will be the canonization of Blessed Joseph Vaz, who will become the first Sri Lankan saint. On January 15, the Pope will travel to the Philippines. This country has suffered many natural disasters. The last one was typhoon Haiyan, that took the lives of 6,000 people on November 2013. F. GREGORY GASTON Rector, Pontificio Collegio Filippino (Rome) "The Pope is going to the Philippines to visit the victims, yes, of the typhoon, but also of other calamities, because months before the super typhoon, two years ago, it was also an earthquake that affected many islands.� The Pope's security is one of the biggest concerns of the organizers of this visit, since Paul VI suffered a terrorist attack when he visited the Philippines in 1970. Still, great crowds of pilgrims are expected to attend all the papal Masses and audiences. John Paul II managed to gather 4 million people on the World Youth Day of Manila 1995. JRB MG/RR SV -PR Up:JRB #Papa