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Pope Francis to visit Thailand in November

Pope Francis to visit Thailand in November

THAILAND: Pope Francis will travel to Thailand in November, the Vatican said yesterday (Sept 13), in a visit to Asia that will also sweep in the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki which were both decimated by atomic bombs in 1945.

religion
By AFP

Saturday 14 September 2019, 12:00PM


A nurse from the Saint Louis Hospital reads a programme about Pope Francis during an announcement in Bangkok on yesterday (Sept 13) regarding his upcoming trip to Thailand and Japan. Photo: Romeo Gacad / AFP

A nurse from the Saint Louis Hospital reads a programme about Pope Francis during an announcement in Bangkok on yesterday (Sept 13) regarding his upcoming trip to Thailand and Japan. Photo: Romeo Gacad / AFP

It has been nearly four decades since a pontiff visited the kingdom. The late Pope John Paul II went to Thailand in 1984 where he met with the late King Rama IX and the Queen Mother.

The current pontiff will travel to Thailand from November 20-23, and then Japan to November 26, the Vatican said.

In Bangkok, Pope Francis will “preside at religious ceremonies and pastoral visits to Catholic communities,” said a press statement from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Thailand.

He would hold “two masses”, added Monsignor Vissanu Thanya-anan of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Thailand.

The four-day papal visit will mark the 350th anniversary of the founding of the “Mission de Siam”, which was first established by Pope Clement IX in 1669.

Today, the 388,000-strong Christian community makes up an estimated 1% of the population in Thailand, with the majority residing in the north and many within ethnic minority groups like the Jarai and the Akha.

Embattled ethnic groups, like the Montagnards who fled religious persecution in neighbouring communist Vietnam, also reside in Thailand seeking asylum.

Sister Ana Rosa Sivori, the Pope’s second cousin who runs a Catholic girls’ school in northeast Thailand, said his visit to a Buddhist-majority Thailand is meant as an outreach to other religions.

“This visit shows his desire... to bring a message of peace,” she told AFP, adding that she would be with her cousin during the Bangkok visit and hopes for some “private” time.

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