VATICANCITY (Reuters) – 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.
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 the two cities hit by U.S. atomic bombs at the end of World War Two – 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 and start around Nov. 20.
Thailand is predominantly Buddhist and Japan is mostly Buddhist and Shinto.
The trip is part of Francis’ push to increase dialogue with other religions in order to promote world peace.
The 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.
(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Ros Russell)