VATICAN CITY, JAN. 8, 2002 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II begins 2002 with the same crowded agenda he has had during his 23-year pontificate, including international trips, major documents and canonizations.
The most-awaited event of 2002 may be World Youth Day, scheduled for July in Toronto. More than 500,000 participants are expected to attend.
After World Youth Day, the Holy Father might visit Mexico to canonize Juan Diego, the Indian who witnessed the apparitions of the Virgin of Guadalupe in 1531.
Recently the Bulgarian government confirmed that the Pope will visit Sofia at the end of May. The trip has been approved by the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, which initially opposed the visit. It will be another step in the Pope´s efforts to move toward full unity with the Orthodox Church, which separated from Rome almost 1,000 years ago.
Press sources have alluded to possible papal visits to Azerbaijan and Byelorussia in 2002, and to John Paul II´s native Poland.
In the short term, the 81-year-old Holy Father looks forward to the meeting of religious leaders for peace, which will take place Jan. 24 in Assisi.
As regards papal documents, it is expected that the apostolic exhortation “Church in Europe” will be published in 2002, summarizing the conclusions of the 1999 synod of European bishops.
2002 may also see high-profile canonizations such as those of Padre Pio and Opus Dei founder Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer, as well as Mexico´s Juan Diego.