Pope Francis may make South Korea his first Asia visit in August

VATICAN CITY Wed Jan 22, 2014 8:34am EST

Pope Francis waves as he leaves after leading his weekly general audience at St. Peter's Square at the Vatican January 22, 2014. REUTERS/Giampiero Sposito

Pope Francis waves as he leaves after leading his weekly general audience at St. Peter's Square at the Vatican January 22, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Giampiero Sposito

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis is considering a trip to South Korea in August to meet with young Catholics, a Vatican spokesman said on Wednesday, in what would be his first visit to Asia where membership of the Church is increasing.

Father Federico Lombardi said the pontiff was also weighing visits to the Philippines and Sri Lanka, though these would not take place this year.

Catholics make up roughly 10 percent of the population of South Korea, which was visited twice by Pope John Paul II, and where the number of Catholics has grown by around 3 percent per annum for the past 11 years, according to Church figures.

The pope has made only one trip internationally so far, visiting Brazil in July, but is due to visit sites in the Holy Land in May. A visit to Asia would be his third international trip.

Lombardi said Francis had received an invitation to visit Bosnia's capital Sarajevo but did not say a trip was planned.

(Reporting by Naomi O'Leary; Editing by Sophie Hares)

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