By Melissa Butz
Pope Francis has embarked on his thirty-second papal trip — his second to the Far East. He will visit Thailand and Japan.
The objective is threefold: to show closeness to the Christian minorities in the area, to encourage dialogue between religions and to talk about world peace.
In Bangkok, he will visit the supreme patriarch of the Buddhists and meet with King Rama X. He will have a private translator: his own cousin, who has been a missionary there for more than 50 years. The Holy Father will also “go green” when traveling, by using an electric car.
On Nov. 23, while traveling to Japan the pontiff and those accompanying him will also fly over China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
In Tokyo, he will meet the recently-named Emperor of Japan, Naruhito.
Pope Francis is to visit “ground zero” from the atomic bombs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to pray for peace in the world. There, he will greet the relatives of American photographer John O’Donnell, who captured the consequences of the tragedy. One of his photos deeply impacts the Holy Father, who described it as “the fruit of war.”
Saint Pope John Paul II visited Thailand in 1984 and Japan in 1981. While there, he warned of the dangers of following life systems focused on effectiveness, because he said they can cause a great inner emptiness in people.