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Pope Francis and the Vatican face a busy year in 2015, with important decisions to be made for the rest of the pontificate. In addition to four overseas trips, the Holy Father is likely to be particularly preoccupied with the Synod on the Family and his encyclical on ecology.
During four overseas trips, the Catholic head of church wants to visit all continents except Australia. Immediately after the New Year's reception for the diplomatic corps, at which Francis is expected to deliver his most politically charged speech of the year, he launches on 12. January for his second trip to Asia.
Destinations include Sri Lanka and the Philippines, where he plans to visit in particular the region hit by the November 2013 tsunami, in which 6.000 people died. During the visit of John Paul II. In 1995, five million faithful gathered in Asia's only Catholic country. This time the organizers expect six million.
Candidates for the College of Cardinals
Even before this trip, possibly on 6. January, the Pope will announce the names of those he will admit to the College of Cardinals at the next consistory. It is expected to be primarily bishops from large dioceses. From the Curia, only Dominique Mamberti, former minister of foreign affairs, is expected to be part of it. Francis will certainly provide surprises again; because at the last consistory some "seeded" candidates from traditional cardinal seats left empty-handed.
Another trip abroad will take the Pope to Philadelphia for World Family Day at the end of September. Presumably, there will be subsequent stops at the UN in New York and at the U.S. Congress in Washington.
Francis has also announced a visit to three Latin American countries, without mentioning their names so far. Since then, almost all the states of the subcontinent have joined in the discussion. Three are certainly not among them: he does not plan to visit his native Argentina and Chile until 2016, and he was already in Brazil for World Youth Day in 2013.
Africa and Lourdes
Francis also plans to visit Africa in 2015, with a visit to the French Marian shrine of Lourdes also on the horizon. Within Italy, Naples and Florence are named destinations. Turin is also among them, to pay tribute to the Shroud of Christ and to celebrate St. Don Bosco's 200th birthday. Birthday to honor.
In October, landmark decisions on the sensitive ies of marriage, family and sexuality are expected from the second Synod of Bishops on these topics. From 4. until 25. The Ordinary Synod of Bishops on the Pastoral Care of the Family will meet in October. A working paper, including a questionnaire, has already been sent to the local Churches. It is a continuation of the first Synod on the Family held last October, which was unusually eventful and made clear the different positions in the episcopate. On the question of receiving communion for remarried divorcees, but also on the attitude toward homosexuals or on the position of civil marriages, some bishops pleaded for more openness, others for a strict adherence to church doctrine.
Moreover, Francis must continue to advance the reform projects he has initiated. This concerns the Curia, which needs new and more efficient structures as well as a new mentality, and which should be more at the service of the local churches, for Vatican finances, which need to be sifted through, reorganized and made more transparent, as well as for the further processing of abuse scandals.
New child protection commission
In the first days of February, the expanded new Child Protection Commission, led by Boston Cardinal Sean O' Malley, will meet for the first time. At the same time, the Economic Council coordinated by Munich Cardinal Reinhard Marx meets. Even before the solemn creations of new cardinals on 12. and 13. February Francis has summoned the College of Cardinals to a consistory. He plans to discuss current ies concerning the course of the Church with his closest collaborators.
In the course of the year, the pope intends to publish his first own encyclical on the subject of ecology; he had written the doctrinal letter "Lumen fidei" of 2013 after preliminary work by his predecessor Benedict XVI. published together with him.