Pope Francis has sent a message to Thailand just days before visiting the Southeast Asian nation which he has praised for its commitment to peace and harmony.
“On the eve of my apostolic journey to Thailand I greet you with affection,” the pope said in his video message published Nov. 15.
“I know it is a multi-ethnic and diverse nation with rich spiritual and cultural traditions,” he said just days out from his planned arrival in the country’s capital Bangkok on Nov. 20.
“Thailand has worked hard to promote harmony and peaceful coexistence not only among its own people but also throughout the region of Southeast Asia,” he said.
“In this world that too frequently experiences discord, division and exclusion this commitment to forging a unity respectful of the dignity of every man, woman and child can serve as an inspiration for the efforts that people of goodwill around the world are making to promote greater development of our human family in solidarity, in justice and living in peace.”
Pope Francis also said that during his upcoming visit he will meet and encourage Thailand’s Catholic “in their faith and in the contribution, they make to the whole of society.”
The pope furthermore said he hoped his visit will “strengthen the bonds of friendship that we share with many Buddhist brothers and sisters.”
You can watch all of the pope’s message above.
Thailand’s 380,000-strong Catholic community makes up less than one percent of the country’s population of 69 million people who are mostly Buddhist. The Church has 12 dioceses and 662 priests in the country.
It is the first visit by a pontiff to Thailand in more than three decades. Pope Francis will travel onto Japan on Nov. 23.