Pope Francis to visit Thailand, Japan in November this year
Bangkok: Pope Francis will travel to Thailand and Japan in November for a visit expected to highlight his call for complete nuclear disarmament and honor the small Catholic communities in each country.
The Vatican confirmed the Nov. 19-26 trip, and its diplomatic representative in Thailand, Archbishop Paul Tschang In-Nam, announced the Thai stop on Friday.
Francis will be in Thailand on Nov. 20-23 before heading to Japan, where government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said the pope would meet with the emperor and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
It will be Francis' fourth trip to Asia, where he has already visited South Korea, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Myanmar and Bangladesh.
The last pope to visit Japan was the late Saint Pope John Paul II in 1981. He was also the last pope to visit Thailand, in 1984.
During his official visit to Thailand, Francis will preside at religious ceremonies and make pastoral visits to Catholic communities.
"When I heard the news about the papal visit, as a Christian, I'm very delighted because it will be a once-in-a-lifetime moment," said Sister Aranya Kitbunchu, a member of the congregation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
"We will get to meet him as a real person, not through TV. I believe that his visit will bring peace to the people."