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Pope Francis departed Rome on Tuesday for Thailand and Japan, majority Buddhist nations the place the Jesuit pontiff is to plead for interreligious dialogue and nuclear disarmament.
The pope’s third journey to Asia, and his 32nd journey overseas, takes him to 2 nations with minority Catholic populations, each evangelised by Jesuit missionaries within the 16th century. Neither have obtained a Papal go to for the reason that 1980s.
The 82-year-old Francis is especially fascinated by Japan, the place in his youth he hoped to be despatched as a missionary earlier than a lung operation minimize brief these plans.
In Bangkok he shall be accompanied by his cousin, Ana Rosa Sivori, a missionary for over 50 years in Thailand, who may even function his interpreter.
The pope is to reach round noon (0500 GMT) Wednesday in Bangkok, forward of a busy schedule the next day.
Francis expressed his hope to “strengthen the ties of friendship” with Buddhists.
On Thursday, he’ll meet the Supreme Patriarch of Thailand, Somdej Phra Maha Muneewong, the pinnacle of the order of Buddhist monks, at a temple.
Additionally on the agenda are personal conferences with Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-Cha and King Maha Vajiralongkorn.
He’ll have fun mass with members of the Catholic neighborhood, which formally accounts for zero.59 p.c of the inhabitants, or practically 400,00zero devoted.
Friday shall be dedicated to conferences with clergymen and bishops of the nation, but in addition a mass in Bangkok devoted to the youth of the nation.
On Saturday, Francis departs for Japan the place the next day he visits Nagasaki and Hiroshima, website of the 1945 atomic assaults by the USA that brought about 74,00zero and 140,00zero deaths, respectively, on the finish World Struggle II, and hastened the give up of Japan.
The Pope has beforehand voiced his worry of nuclear battle, and has railed towards nations that earn cash from weapons.
“Along with you, I pray that the damaging energy of nuclear weapons won’t ever be unleashed once more in human historical past,” stated the pinnacle of the world’s 1.three billion Catholics in a video message earlier than his departure on Monday. “The usage of nuclear weapons is immoral.”
Francis can also be to fulfill victims of the devastating 2011 earthquake that struck northeastern Japan and the following tsunami that between them killed 18,500 individuals and sparked the nuclear energy disaster at Fukushima.
The latest go to to the 2 nations was by the late Pope Jean Paul II, to Japan in 1981 and Thailand in 1984.
© 2019 AFP