Papua New Guinea will be hosting Pope Francis in late August.

Catholic Bishops Conference of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands general secretary Father Victor Roche confirmed the Pope’s visit with RNZ Pacific on Thursday.

Papua New Guinea has approximately two million Catholics – about 20 percent of the nation.

The Pope is visiting two cities in PNG over three to four days, with the first stop in the capital Port Moresby and the other city yet to be decided.

“We will be of course give a traditional cultural welcome. There are many churches. So, all churches and government ministers will join in welcoming the Pope,” he said.

“He will meet with Bishops, religious leaders and government ministers.”

Late last year, it was being reported that the Pope was considering a visit to Polynesia, which got French Polynesia’s Christians community excited.

But the trip to Papua New Guinea had been on the cards for almost a year.

Father Roche looked forward to meeting Pope Francis.

“I will congratulate him and shake his hand.”

Following the recent social unrest involving rioting and looting, Father Roche also hoped the Pope would have some wisdom for government leaders.

Violence broke out in Port Moresby with shops and businesses set alight on 10 January, after public servants, including police and army personnel, went on strike over a payroll issue.

As many as 22 people died in the violence, which prompted the government to issue a state of emergency.

“Surely he will have discussion with government leaders. There will be a meeting with him. Whatever his concerns are about the people. He will say something,” Father Roche said.

Although exact details were still being planned, Father Roche said when he shared the news with the general priests they clapped and were “really happy” about the visit.

He said the visit means a lot and holds “great importance for a small nation like Papua New Guinea.”

It will be the third time a Pope has visited the nation. Pope John Paul II has visited twice before, first in 1984 and then again in 1995, but it is Pope Francis’ first time to Papua New Guinea.