By Devin Watkins
Wrapping up his visit to Thailand, the Pope left Thai soil at around 10 AM local time.
As soon as he left Bangkok, Pope Francis sent a telegram to His Majesty King Rama X, the King of Tailand. "As I leave Thailand to continue my Apostolic Journey to Japan," the Pope wrote, "I renew my deep appreciation to your Majesty, the Royal Family and the beloved people of Thailand for your warm welcome and generous hospitality." He then invoked "abundant divine blessings" upon all, assuring his prayers "for peace and harmony in the nation".
With his departure from Thailand, Pope Francis begins his Apostolic Journey to Japan following a 6-hour flight to Tokyo’s Haneda Airport.
While in Thailand, Pope Francis invited the Southeast Asian nation’s Catholics to live their faith as missionary disciples, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
His visit also had a strong interreligious aspect.
He urged all religious faiths to work together to overcome global challenges, including the scourge of human trafficking.
Pope Francis is expected to arrive in Japan for the second leg of his Apostolic Journey a little before 6 PM (GMT+9).
He heads straight for the Apostolic Nunciature in Tokyo, where he meets with the nation’s Bishops on Saturday evening.
The Pope’s schedule for Sunday sees him fly to Nagasaki and Hiroshima to pray at the only two places where nuclear weapons were used during war.
In Nagasaki he will also pay homage to the Japanese martyrs who died during the persecutions of Catholics in the 17th century.
On Monday, the Pope will spend time with the faithful in Tokyo, and meet with government authorities.
The Pope returns to Rome on Monday after meeting local Jesuits and their students at Sophia University.