Pope heading to Thailand to encourage Catholic minority

International

Pope Francis boards an airplane at the Rome Leonardo da Vinci airport, Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019. Pope Francis’ three-day visit to Thailand, followed by three days in Japan, will be a welcome break for the 82-year-old pope. He is enduring fresh opposition from Catholic conservatives in the U.S. over his just-concluded meeting on the Amazon as well as a new financial scandal at home. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis is heading to Thailand to encourage members of a minority Catholic community in a Buddhist nation and highlight his admiration for their missionary ancestors who brought the faith centuries ago and endured bouts of persecution more recently.

After an overnight flight, Francis arrives in Bangkok on Wednesday afternoon and will rest for the remainder of the day before his first full day of public appearances Thursday.

Francis’ three-day visit, followed by three days in Japan, will be a welcome break for the 82-year-old pope. He is enduring fresh opposition from Catholic conservatives in the U.S. over his just-concluded meeting on the Amazon as well as a new financial scandal at home.

Leaving those concerns behind, Francis will meet with Thailand’s supreme Buddhist leader, Thai authorities as well as all the Catholic bishops of Asia — a rare chance for him to address some of the major challenges facing the Catholic Church in the region and the men responsible for dealing with them.

On the eve of the trip, the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, said interfaith relations and emphasizing the dignity of every person are likely to be raised — a reference perhaps to Thailand’s role as a key transit point for victims of human trafficking, forced labor and the sex trade. Francis has made the fight against human trafficking a hallmark of his papacy.

Francis is also expected to encourage the Catholic community, which represents just 0.58 percent of its 69 million people, as well as encourage the largely Buddhist country to continue welcoming migrants and showing tolerance to people of other faiths. That message is also intended to reach the small Muslim community amid a persistent insurgency in the south.

Thirty-five years after St. John Paul II became the first pope to visit Thailand, Francis is marking the 350th anniversary of the creation of a stable apostolic vicariate in Thailand, then known as Siam, after Dominican missionaries first brought the faith in 1567, followed by members of Francis’ own Jesuit order.

Francis will pray at the tomb of Nicholas Bunkerd Kitbamrung, known as the Rev. Benedikto Chunkim, who became the first martyred priest of modern Thailand when he was killed in 1944. Francis is also likely to refer to seven other martyrs killed in 1940 as a nationalistic government sought to convert all Thais to Buddhists.

Throughout his visit, he will have a special interpreter by his side: his second cousin, Sister Ana Rosa Sivori, who has been a missionary in Thailand since the 1960s.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Scattered Clouds

Abbeville

59°F Scattered Clouds Feels like 59°
Wind
6 mph SE
Humidity
93%
Sunrise
Sunset

Tonight

Partly cloudy skies. Low 57F. Winds S at 5 to 10 mph.
60°F Partly cloudy skies. Low 57F. Winds S at 5 to 10 mph.
Wind
5 mph S
Precip
10%
Sunset
Moon Phase
Waxing Gibbous
Overcast

Crowley

61°F Overcast Feels like 61°
Wind
9 mph SSE
Humidity
96%
Sunrise
Sunset

Tonight

Partly cloudy skies this evening will become overcast overnight. Low 57F. Winds S at 5 to 10 mph.
60°F Partly cloudy skies this evening will become overcast overnight. Low 57F. Winds S at 5 to 10 mph.
Wind
6 mph S
Precip
20%
Sunset
Moon Phase
Waxing Gibbous
Clear

Opelousas

57°F Clear Feels like 57°
Wind
9 mph SSE
Humidity
91%
Sunrise
Sunset

Tonight

Partly cloudy skies early will give way to cloudy skies late. Low 56F. Winds S at 5 to 10 mph.
60°F Partly cloudy skies early will give way to cloudy skies late. Low 56F. Winds S at 5 to 10 mph.
Wind
8 mph S
Precip
20%
Sunset
Moon Phase
Waxing Gibbous
Clear

Breaux Bridge

58°F Clear Feels like 58°
Wind
5 mph SSE
Humidity
87%
Sunrise
Sunset

Tonight

Partly cloudy this evening, then becoming cloudy after midnight. Low 56F. Winds SSE at 5 to 10 mph.
60°F Partly cloudy this evening, then becoming cloudy after midnight. Low 56F. Winds SSE at 5 to 10 mph.
Wind
6 mph S
Precip
20%
Sunset
Moon Phase
Waxing Gibbous
Clear

New Iberia

56°F Clear Feels like 56°
Wind
6 mph SSE
Humidity
100%
Sunrise
Sunset

Tonight

Mostly clear skies this evening will become overcast overnight. Low near 55F. Winds SSE at 5 to 10 mph.
57°F Mostly clear skies this evening will become overcast overnight. Low near 55F. Winds SSE at 5 to 10 mph.
Wind
7 mph SSE
Precip
20%
Sunset
Moon Phase
Waxing Gibbous

Sidebar

Trending Stories