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Pope Recalls Apostolic Journey to Thailand and Japan

Full Text of November 27 General Audience

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This morning’s General Audience was held at 9:00 in St. Peter’s Square, where the Holy Father Francis met with groups of pilgrims and faithful from Italy and from all over the world.

In his address in Italian, the Pope focused his meditation on his Apostolic Journey to Thailand and Japan, which ended yesterday evening (Biblical passage: from the Gospel according to Matthew 28:16-20).

After summarizing his catechesis in several languages, the Holy Father expressed special greetings to groups of faithful present.

The General Audience ended with the singing of the Pater Noster and the Apostolic Blessing.

* * *

The Holy Father’s Catechesis

 Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

I returned yesterday from the Apostolic Journey to Thailand and Japan, a gift for which I am very grateful to the Lord. I want to renew my gratitude to the Authorities and to the Bishops of these two countries, who invited me and received me with great solicitude, and I wish to thank especially the Thai people and the Japanese people. This visit has enhanced my closeness and my affection for these peoples: may God bless them with an abundance of prosperity and peace.

ZENIT English was on the Papal Flight.

Thailand is an ancient Kingdom, which has highly modernized itself. Meeting with the King, the Prime Minister, and other Authorities, I rendered homage to the rich spiritual and cultural tradition of the Thai people, the people of the “beautiful smile.” The people down there smile. I encouraged the commitment to harmony among the nation’s different components, as well as that the economic development be for the benefit of all, and that the wounds of exploitation be healed, especially of women and minors. The Buddhist religion is an integral part of the history and life of these people; therefore, I went to visit the Supreme Patriarch of the Buddhists, following the way of mutual esteem initiated by my Predecessors, so that compassion and fraternity may grow in the world. Very significant in this connection was the ecumenical and inter-religious meeting, which was held in the country’s largest University.

The witness of the Church in Thailand passes also through the works of service to the sick and the least. Excelling among these is Saint Louis Hospital, which I visited, encouraging the health personnel and meeting some patients. Then I dedicated specific moments to priests and consecrated persons, to the Bishops, and also to brother Jesuits. I celebrated Mass in Bangkok with all the People of God in the National Stadium and then with young people in the Cathedral. There we witnessed that in the new family formed by Jesus Christ there are also faces and voices of the Thai people.

Then I went to Japan. On my arrival at the Nunciature of Tokyo, I was welcomed by the country’s bishops, with whom we shared right away the challenge of being Pastors of a very small Church, but bearer of the living water, the Gospel of Jesus.

The motto of my visit to Japan was “Protect All Life,” a country that has imprinted the wounds of the atomic bombing and is spokesman for the whole world of the fundamental right to life and to peace. I paused in prayer at Nagasaki and Hiroshima; I met some survivors and relatives of the victims, and I reiterated the firm condemnation of nuclear arms and the hypocrisy of speaking of peace while constructing and selling weapons of war. After that tragedy, Japan has demonstrated an extraordinary capacity to fight for life; and it did so also recently, after the triple disaster of 2011: the earthquake, tsunami, and incident in the nuclear plant.

To protect life it’s necessary to love it, and today the grave menace, in the more developed countries, is the loss of the sense of living.

The first victims of the empty sense of living are the young people; therefore, a meeting at Tokyo was dedicated to them. I listened to their questions and their dreams; I encouraged them to oppose together every form of bullying and to overcome fear and closure, opening themselves to the love of God in prayer and in the service of their neighbor. I met other young people there at Sophia University, along with the academic community. This University, like all the Catholic schools, is much appreciated in Japan.

In Tokyo I had the opportunity to visit Emperor Naruhito, to whom I renew the expression of my gratitude; and I met the country’s Authorities with the Diplomatic Corps. I hoped for a culture of encounter and dialogue, characterized by wisdom and a wide horizon. By remaining faithful to its religious and moral values, and open to the evangelical message, Japan will be able to be a driving country for a more just and peaceful world and for harmony between man and the environment.

Dear brothers and sisters, we entrust to God’s goodness and providence the peoples of Thailand and of Japan. Thank you.

[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

In Italian

 I would like to send my greeting and my closeness to the dear Albanian people, which have suffered so much in these days. Albania was the first country of Europe that I wished to visit. I am close to the victims; I pray for the dead, for the wounded, and for the families. May the Lord bless these people that I love so much.

Proclaimed Blessed last Saturday at Tambau, Brazil, was the priest Donizetti Tavares de Lima, Pastor totally dedicated to his people, witness of evangelical charity and courageous defender of the poor. May the priests, the consecrated persons, but also the lay faithful, be able to make their own the witness of faith of Blessed Donizetti, with coherence in life choices inspired in the Gospel. An applause for the new Blessed!

A warm welcome goes to the Italian-speaking pilgrims. In particular, I greet the participants in the Assembly of the Apostolic Union of the Clergy, with H.E. Monsignor Mansi; the Somaschi Fathers; and the parish groups. In addition, I greet the Saint Paul National Association; the Institute for Inspectors of the State Police of Nettuno; the personnel of the police headquarters of Bari; the National Contact Association; and the Autonomous Small Businesses Federation.

Finally, I greet the young people, the elderly, the sick and the newlyweds. The Liturgical Season of Advent will begin next Sunday. I will go to Greccio to pray in the place of the first Nativity scene made by Saint Francis of Assisi and to send to all believing people a letter to understand the meaning of the Crib. I hope for all of you that in Advent the expectation of the Saviour may fill your heart with hope and find you joyful in the service of the neediest. Thank you.

[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

© Libreria Editrice Vatican


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Virginia Forrester

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