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Pope Francis to visit Thailand and Japan in November

by Vatican News

The Holy See Press Office announces Pope Francis’ Apostolic Journey to Thailand and Japan from 19 to 26 November. He will be the second Pope to visit these two Asian countries, after Pope John Paul II. Also, Pope Francis launches the Global Educational Alliance initiative to shape the future of humanity by forming mature individuals who can overcome division and care for our common home.

The Pope’s next Apostolic Journey will see him visiting two Asian countries: the Kingdom of Thailand, from 20 to 23 November, and then Japan from 23 to 26 November, where he will visit Tokyo, Nagasaki and Hiroshima. A detailed program of the visit will be announced later.

Thailand

The motto of the first stage of the Apostolic Journey is “Disciples of Christ, Missionary Disciples”, and is a reference to an important anniversary. 2019 marks the 350th anniversary of the establishment of the Apostolic Vicariate of Siam, erected in 1669.

This event is represented in the logo prepared for the visit. Beneath a smiling Pope Francis is a boat that symbolizes evangelization. Its three sails recall the Trinity. The stylized representation of Our Lady’s hand supports the vessel. Finally, a golden cross invites the whole Thai Catholic Church to be a witness to the Good News.

The Asian Continent

In January this year, Pope Francis sent a message to the meeting of Presidents of the Doctrinal Commissions of the Bishops’ Conferences of Asia, and a delegation of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in Bangkok. “You are gathered in Asia, a vast and multiform continent, marked by religious, linguistic and cultural diversity”, wrote the Pope, “in order to reaffirm our common responsibility for the unity and integrity of the Catholic faith, as well as to explore new means and methods of witnessing to the Gospel in the midst of the challenges of our contemporary world”.

Japan

The theme of the Apostolic Journey to Japan focuses on the protection of life and Creation, and  is quoted from a phase in “A prayer for our earth” at the end of the Pope’s Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’, on caring for our common home. In that document, the Pope encourages us to respect both the dignity of each person, but also the environment.

This is particularly poignant in a country like Japan where the nuclear threat, as we read in the description of the motto, “remains a persistent problem”. Three flames of three different colors characterize the logo: a red flame recalling the martyrs, the foundation of the Church in Japan, a blue flame representing the Blessed Virgin Mary who embraces all humanity as her children, and a green flame symbolizing both the nature of Japan, and the mission to proclaim the Gospel of hope. A red circle, like a sun, embraces all life, and symbolizes love. 

Quoting an African proverb – “It takes a whole village to educate a child” – Pope Francis called for the creation of an “educational village”.

Pope calls for educational alliance to promote care for common home

The Vatican will host a meeting on 14 May 2020 in the Paul VI Hall to reflect on the theme “Reinventing the Global Educational Alliance”.

The Holy See Press Office announced that the Pope has invited representatives from various religions, NGOs, academia, and cultural and political leaders to attend, in hopes of endorsing the “Global Compact on Education”.

Renew dialogue

Pope Francis lent his support to the initiative on Thursday.

In his written message, the Pope said the meeting “will rekindle our dedication for and with young people, renewing our passion for a more open and inclusive education, including patient listening, constructive dialogue, and better mutual understanding.”

The goal, he stressed, is to develop “a new universal solidarity and a more welcoming society,” adding that education is key to driving positive change.

In an educational village

“Never before has there been such need to unite our efforts in a broad educational alliance, to form mature individuals capable of overcoming division and antagonism, and to restore the fabric of relationships for the sake of a more fraternal humanity,” he said.

Quoting an African proverb – “It takes a whole village to educate a child” – Pope Francis called for the creation of an “educational village”.

In such a system, he said, everyone would participate according to their respective roles to form a “network of open, human relationships.”

The Pope called it an alliance that “integrates and respects all aspects of the person, uniting studies and everyday life, teachers, students and their families, and civil society in its intellectual, scientific, artistic, athletic, political, business, and charitable dimensions.”

And he laid out several steps towards creating this “educating village”.

To direct history

Pope Francis concluded by inviting everyone to commit themselves to improving their communities and to promoting “forward-looking initiatives that can give direction to history and change it for the better.”

“Let us seek solutions together, boldly undertake processes of change, and look to the future with hope.”

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