Pope Francis will visit the Italian city of Genoa on May 27, 2017, the Vatican announced on Sunday, after the pontiff was forced to cancel a scheduled visit this September to close a national Eucharistic Congress held there.
At the time, the Vatican cited excessive commitments related to Pope Francis’s special jubilee Holy Year of Mercy as the reason for cancelling the appointment.
The pontiff also cancelled a scheduled visit to Milan this year, and recently the Vatican announced that Francis would make up that trip on March 25, 2017.
The Vatican did not provide details of the pope’s agenda in Genoa, but the brief announcement suggested it would be a day trip.
Both visits are considered important to the Italian ecclesiastical scene, in part because Genoa is led by Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, president of the powerful Italian bishops’ conference, known by its acronym of CEI, and Milan is headed by Cardinal Angelo Scola, who was considered a contender for the papacy in the 2103 conclave that elected Francis.
When both the Milan and Genoa visits were cancelled, some observers of the Italian scene read the decisions as snubs, given that Scola is generally seen as more conservative than Francis, and that the pontiff has at times been seen as having an ambivalent relationship with Bagnasco.
Announcing new dates for both trips well in advance, therefore, has generally been taken as a sign that Francis wants to avoid any further speculation about rifts with important Italian prelates.
During a news conference aboard the papal plane while returning from a trip to Georgia and Azerbaijan, Francis told reporters that he won’t have many opportunities to travel in 2017 because he’ll face an usually heavy schedule of ad limina visits by bishops from around the world that were delayed during the jubilee year.
The ad limina is a visit to Rome that all Catholic bishops are expected to make every five years.