Pope to visit Oceania in 2022, Greece in December

Pope Francis said in an interview published Friday that he intends to visit Oceania for the first time next year, while scheduling a visit to Greece and Cyprus for December.

"The first weekend of December I will go to Greece and Cyprus," Francis told Argentine news agency Telam, adding that he would take his first ever trip to Oceania in 2022.

Telam did not report where within Oceania the pope planned to travel.

The 84-year-old Argentinian pontiff -- who underwent surgery on his colon in July -- sharply curtailed his busy travel schedule last year due to the coronavirus pandemic but this year made an historic trip to Iraq in March and visited Slovakia last month.

As pontiff, he has made over 30 official trips since 2013.

"For the moment I have in my head two trips that I have not yet set in motion, which are the Congo and Hungary," Francis told Telam.

Francis briefly stopped in Hungary's capital, Budapest, in September to preside over the closing mass of the International Eucharistic Congress.

He also said he had an "overdue bill" for a trip to Papua New Guinea and East Timor that had originally been scheduled for 2020, but were postponed.

In September, Vatican officials said the planned trip to Greece would include a visit by Francis to refugees on the island of Lesbos, the frontline of Europe's migrant crisis.

In 2016, Francis visited Moria, the continent's largest migrant camp located on the island, before it was destroyed by fire last year.

After his visit, the pope took three Syrian families from the camp with him on the papal plane from Lesbos to the Vatican in what he described as a humanitarian gesture.