Pope Francis has announced his intention to visit Japan in 2019,
becoming the first pontiff to do so since John Paul II.
“I would like to communicate my intention to visit Japan next year,” the pope told a group of Japanese during an audience at the Vatican. “I hope to be able to fulfill this wish.”
Pope Francis said on wednesday while hosting the delegates
from the charitable Tensho Kenoho Shisetsu Kenshokai Association, commemorating a visit in 1585 of four young Japanese men accompanied by Jesuit missionaries.
The Pope revealed that the 1585 journey to visit pope Gregory XIII was the first by Japanese to Europe and took more than eight years.
“Yours is shorter and less tiring,” the pope joked. “But I hope you feel welcomed by the Pope as they were.”
“You wish to show that religion, culture and the economy can work together peacefully to create a more humane world marked by an integral ecology.”