The trip is expected to go ahead and will revive memories of the historic papal visit in 1984 when Pope John Paul II visited the kingdom and ordained 23 new priests.
It is understood that arrangements are in place for the end of year visit to Thailand of Pope Francis with an official announcement expected shortly. The pontiff is expected to be in the country sometime around November 20th as part of a 7-day visit to Thailand and Japan.
It is understood that preparations are in place for the expected visit of Pope Francis to Thailand at the end of November. A source at the Apostolic Nunciature or Embassy of the Holy See in Bangkok this week has pointed out however that the visit has not yet been confirmed. It is believed that an official announcement is due soon.
The pope is expected to visit Thailand on his way to Japan. He is scheduled to spend approximately seven days in both countries with a tentative date set for the beginning of the trip of November 20th. The pope’s visit to Japan was announced by himself in January this year
Pope Francis will fly to visit Japan and the scenes of the two atomic bomb explosions
Pope Francis is already expected to visit Tokyo and the scenes of the 1945 atomic bomb explosions in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
If the trip does go ahead, it will be a landmark occasion for the 0.5% of the population of Catholics living in Thailand, many of them Chinese Thai families. It will also have some importance for the greater Christian community in the kingdom estimated to comprise just over 1% of Thailand’s populace.
Trip to mark the 350th anniversary of the Mission de Siam in the old Ayutthaya period
Vatican sources are saying the trip is also meant to celebrate the 350th anniversary of the first papal mission to then Siam sent by then Pope Clement IX 350 years ago in the Ayutthaya period. The ‘Mission de Siam’ was sent to regulate and oversee a range of Catholic missions that were already in the kingdom.
Small but vibrant Catholic community makes a significant contribution to Thai society
Today, despite its small size, the Catholic community in Thailand makes a valuable contribution to society, particularly in professional fields such as education. Its existence as a flourishing group is a testimony to Thailand’s success at fostering minority religions in the overwhelmingly Buddhist nation.
The trip by Pope Francis is understood to have at its heart, the goal of reaching out to other religions and traditions to emphasise peace in the world.
Cherished memories of the highly successful visit of Pope John Paul II in 1984 to Thailand
For many Catholics including the clergy of priests and bishops, the visit is a reminder of the historic and enormously successful visit of Pope John Paul II to Thailand in 1984. Memories of the visit are still cherished and celebrated regularly.
When the former pontiff came to Thailand thirty-five years ago, he had an audience with King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit, the Queen Mother and seemed warmly at ease in the country.
Statue of the well-loved Pope at Bangkok’s Assumption Cathedral in Bangkok’s old quarter
The then pope ordained 23 new priests during his visit and had a message for Catholics and the faithful in Thailand: ‘I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.’
Today at Bangkok’s Assumption Cathedral in the old quarter of the city there stand two statues outside the entrance to the place of worship. One is a statue of St Peter, the first leader of the early church and the other is of Pope John Paul II, the young Polish actor during World War II who became pope.