- May 6, 2021
Over half a century since joining the Jesuits with the hope of becoming a missionary in Japan, Pope Francis finally fulfilled the dream of visiting this land, following in the footsteps of the co-founder of his religious order.
Pope Francis managed an airborne diplomatic dance by sending telegrams of greetings to the leaders of China, Hong Kong and Taiwan as he flew through their airspace on his way from Thailand to Japan.
Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Three cities in three days is the schedule for Pope Francis’s Nov. 23-26 visit to Japan, a land to which he dreamed of being a missionary when he was a young seminarian studying to become a Jesuit priest in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
It’s fitting that Pope Francis will start his first official visit to Japan in Nagasaki, the city where Christianity first took hold in the country and where nearly 500 years later it remains steeped in blood-soaked symbolism, both religious and political.
A commitment to defending and protecting human life requires a commitment to ending wars and to promoting nuclear disarmament, Pope Francis said.
Pope Francis’s Nov. 19-26 trip to Thailand and Japan will be his fourth to Asia, following South Korea (2014), Sri Lanka and the Philippines (2015), and Bangladesh and Myanmar (2017).
Pope Francis has agendas both pastoral and personal for his trip to Asia, where he’ll appeal for global nuclear disarmament at the sites of the atomic bomb and minister to two tiny Catholic communities that have suffered gruesome periods of persecution.
After spending most of October at the Vatican working with the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon and dedicating the first two weeks of November to “ad limina” visits with bishops from the United States, Pope Francis will travel to Thailand and Japan in late November.