By Devin Watkins – Tokyo, Japan
It’s a well-known fact that Pope Francis has harbored an ardent desire to become a missionary to Japan ever since he was a young man.
“Over time, I felt the desire to go as a missionary to Japan, where the Jesuits have always carried out a very important work,” he was quoted as saying in the book “El Jesuita”, published in 2010.
Fr Jorge Bergoglio requested an assignment to the East Asian nation as a young Jesuit in Argentina.
Today he made that dream became a reality.
Missionary to Japan
Pope Francis arrived at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport on Saturday evening, becoming the second Pope to visit Japan.
His predecessor, Pope St John Paul II, came here in 1981, and left a lasting mark on the local Catholic Church.
That visit helped change the way Japanese people viewed the Church’s role in society. The Polish Pope visited Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and both Tokyo Dome and Sophia University during his historic visit.
Mirror image of JPII’s visit
Pope Francis’ visit 38 years later mirrors that itinerary closely.
He travels to Nagasaki and Hiroshima on Sunday, and spends Monday and Tuesday in Tokyo, where he will visit the same Jesuit-run university and celebrate Mass at the Tokyo Dome.
If the coverage given in Japanese media is any indication, most Catholics are sure that Pope Francis’ missionary visit will have a lasting impact on both the country and the local Church.