Pope Francis, known in his native Argentina for never leaving home, collected more frequent-flyer miles in 2019 than in any of the previous six years of his pontificate, traveling to Panama, the United Arab Emirates, Morocco, Bulgaria and North Macedonia, Romania, Mozambique, Madagascar, Mauritius, Thailand and Japan.
Though each trip had its own raison d’etre, there were three major themes, all among the top priorities of Francis’s pontificate, which were front and center.
hough Francis’s Jan. 23-27 visit to Panama was decided long before he was elected as Successor of Peter because it was hosting World Youth Day (WYD), a Vatican-sponsored youth festival that takes place every two or three years with the almost-mandatory presence of the pope, the visit nevertheless served as a testing ground for the lessons of the 2018 Synod of Bishops on the Youth.
Upon his return to Rome, Francis defined WYD as a sign that “young Christians are the leaven for peace in the world,” and serve as a sharp contrast to today’s “sad” situation of confrontational nationalist feelings.
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