VATICAN CITY (Catholic News Service) — Peace, interreligious dialogue and respectful missionary outreach will be the top themes when Pope Francis visits Thailand and Japan in late November.
The Holy Father’s visit to the Asian countries will begin Nov. 20 in Bangkok, where the local Catholic community is marking the 350th anniversary of the establishment of the “Apostolic Vicariate of Siam Mission.”
In Japan, the pontiff will visit peace memorials at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, where the U.S. military dropped atomic bombs in early August 1945. But Pope Francis also will spend time with survivors of Japan’s March 11, 2011, “triple disaster” when a strong earthquake set off a devastating tsunami that flooded a nuclear power plant and led to its meltdown.
Here is the preliminary schedule released by the Vatican Oct. 2; further details will be released closer to the trip. Times listed are local, with Eastern Time in parentheses:
Tuesday, Nov. 19 (Rome)
— 7 p.m. (1 p.m.) Departure from Rome’s Fiumicino airport.
Wednesday, Nov. 20 (Bangkok)
— 12:30 p.m. (12:30 a.m.) Arrival at Bangkok’s Military Air Terminal 2. Official welcome.
Thursday, Nov. 21 (Bangkok)
— Welcoming ceremony in the courtyard of Government House.
— Meeting with the prime minister in the Inner Ivory Room of Government House.
— Meeting with government authorities, civic leaders and members of the diplomatic corps in the Inner Santi Maitri Room of Government House. Speech by Pope Francis.
— Visit with the Buddhist supreme patriarch of Thailand at the Wat Ratchabophit temple. Greeting by Pope Francis.
— Meeting with medical personnel at St. Louis Hospital, followed by private visit with the patients and people with disabilities. Greeting by pope.
— Lunch in the apostolic nunciature.
— Private visit with King Maha Vajiralongkorn at the royal palace.
— Mass in National Stadium. Homily by Pope Francis.
Friday, Nov. 22 (Bangkok)
— Meeting with priests, religious, seminarians and catechists at St. Peter’s parish. Speech by Pope Francis.
— Meeting with the bishops of Thailand and with members of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences at the Shrine of Blessed Nicholas Bunkerd Kitbamrung. Speech by Pope Francis.
— Private meeting with members of the Society of Jesus in a room next to the shrine.
— Lunch in the apostolic nunciature.
— Meeting with Christian leaders and the leaders of other religions at Chulalongkorn University. Speech by Pope Francis.
— Mass with young people in Assumption Cathedral.
Saturday, Nov. 23 (Bangkok, Tokyo)
— Farewell ceremony at Bangkok’s Military Air Terminal 2.
— 9:30 a.m. (9:30 p.m. Nov. 22). Departure for Tokyo.
— 5:40 p.m. (3:40 a.m.) Arrival at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport.
— Welcoming ceremony.
— Meeting with the bishops of Japan at the apostolic nunciature. Speech by Pope Francis.
Sunday, Nov. 24 (Tokyo, Nagasaki, Hiroshima, Tokyo)
— 7 a.m. (5 p.m. Nov. 23) Departure by plane for Nagasaki.
— 9:20 a.m. (7:20 p.m. Nov. 23) Arrival at the Nagasaki airport.
— Message on nuclear weapons at Atomic Bomb Hypocenter Park. Message by Pope Francis.
— Homage to the holy martyrs at the martyrs’ monument on Nishizaka Hill. Greeting by Pope Francis.
— Lunch at the archbishop’s residence.
— Mass at the Nagasaki baseball stadium. Homily by Pope Francis.
— 4:35 p.m. (2:35 a.m.) Departure by plane for Hiroshima.
— 5:45 p.m. (3:45 a.m.) Arrival at the Hiroshima airport.
— Meeting for peace at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial. Message by Pope Francis.
— 8:25 p.m. (5:25 a.m.) Departure by plane to Tokyo.
— 10:10 p.m. (8:10 a.m.) Arrival at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport.
Monday, Nov. 25 (Tokyo)
— Meeting with victims of the 2011 “triple disaster” (earthquake, tsunami and nuclear power plant meltdown) at Bellesalle Hanzomon. Speech by pope.
— Private meeting with Emperor Naruhito at the Imperial Palace.
— Meeting young people in St. Mary’s Cathedral. Speech by Pope Francis.
— Lunch with the papal entourage in the apostolic nunciature.
— Mass in the Tokyo Dome. Homily by Pope Francis.
— Meeting with the prime minister at the Kantei.
— Meeting with government authorities, civic leaders and members of the diplomatic corps at the Kantei. Speech by Pope Francis.
Tuesday, Nov. 26 (Tokyo, Rome)
— Private Mass with members of the Society of Jesus in the Kulturheim Chapel of Sophia University.
— Breakfast at Sophia University, followed by a visit to priests who are elderly or ill.
— Visit to Sophia University. Speech by Pope Francis.
— Farewell ceremony at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport.
— 11:35 a.m. (9:35 p.m. Nov. 25) Departure by plane for Rome.
— 5:15 p.m. (11:15 a.m.) Arrival at Rome’s Fiumicino airport.