VATICAN CITY – His Holiness Pope Francis is expected to make an official trip to Thailand in November. Ahead of an already announced visit to Japan.
Becoming the first pontiff in nearly four decades to go to either country, Vatican sources say.
The three sources said the trip would be announced soon, Reuters reported.
The late Pope John Paul visited Japan in 1981 and Thailand in 1984.
Francis’ trip to Japan, which he announced himself in January, will take him to Tokyo as well as Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The trip to the two countries where Catholics are a tiny minority. Accounting for less than half of one percent of the population, is expected to last about seven days.
Thailand is predominantly Buddhist and Japan is mostly Buddhist and Shinto.
The trip is part of Pope Francis’ push to increase dialogue with other religions in order to promote world peace.
Pope Francis stop in Thailand will coincide with the 350th anniversary of the founding of the “Mission de Siam” by Pope Clement IX to oversee missions in Siam, the former name of Thailand.
As of 2018, there were 379,975 Catholics in Thailand, a figure that represents 0.46 percent of the total population of 69 million. There are 11 dioceses with 436 parishes and 662 priests.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Chiang Rai is a suffragan diocese of the Archdiocese of Bangkok.
The diocese covers an area of 37,839 km, covering four provinces: Chiang Rai, Nan, Phayao, Phrae and Ngao District of the Lampang Province. The diocese is divided into 16 parishes, having 47 priests altogether.