Pope Francis to visit Thailand, Japan this week

PILGRIMAGE: Guam resident Joey Tajalle kisses Pope Francis' ring during a pilgrimage to Rome, Italy, this year. The visit follows another in 2017, when Tajalle journeyed with his family, including his granddaughter Makenna, who was a year old at the time. Makenna was among the children who received a blessing from the pope. The pope will be in Asia this week and many people from Guam hope to attend one of the Masses in Japan.  Post file photo courtesy of Joey Tajalle

Pope Francis will be visiting Japan this week. 

While the Archdiocese of Agana won’t be sending a delegation to Asia, there are about 90 people from Guam, so far, who will be traveling to Japan this week. Many are coordinating their travel with the Guam Nikkei Association to secure their seats for papal Masses, which will be celebrated on Nov. 24 in Nagasaki and Nov. 25 in Tokyo, according to church spokesman Tony Diaz

“Archbishop Byrnes will not be traveling to Japan for the pope's visit,” Diaz stated in an email. “He does extend his prayers to all people from our island who will trek to Japan for the papal visit and Masses. As well, he will be praying for the Holy Father, the people of Japan and all pilgrims during the historic occasion.”

According to the Vatican News, Pope Francis is visiting Thailand and Japan from Nov. 20 to 26. This is the pope’s fourth visit to Asia. He visited several times over the years, including South Korea in 2014, Sri Lanka and the Philippines the following year and Myanmar and Bangladesh in 2017, the Vatican News reports.

For the two nations he’s visiting this week, it will be the first visit by a pope in more than 30 years.

St. John Paul II was the last pope to visit Thailand in 1984.

John Paul visited Japan 38 years ago in 1981, during the same trip in which he visited Guam. The theme of Pope Francis’ visit to Japan, “Protect All Life," focuses on respect for not only each person’s dignity but also the environment, according to the country's Catholic bishops, the Vatican News reports.

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