Pope Francis boarded the papal plane going back to Rome on the morning of Nov. 26 at Tokyo Haneda Airport marking the end of his Apostolic journey in Asia.
Pope Francis arrived in Thailand on Nov. 20 for the first leg of his journey and came to Japan on the 23rd. It was his fourth papal visit in Asia.
The 82-year-old pontiff visited Bangkok and Sampran in Thailand and then the cities of Nagasaki, Hiroshima, and Tokyo in Japan during the 7-day journey.
On Nov. 25, the pope celebrated the Mass for the 32nd Apostolic Visit at the Tokyo Dome Stadium.
During his homily, he said the Christian community is “invited to protect all life and testify with wisdom and courage to a way of living marked by gratitude and compassion, generosity and simple listening.”
The pope said the Christian community “is one that is capable of embracing and accepting life as it is, with all its fragility and its simplicity, and often enough too, with its conflicts and annoyances.”
“We are called to be a community that can learn and teach the importance of accepting things that are not perfect, pure or ‘distilled’, yet no less worthy of love,” he said.
“Is a disabled or frail person not worthy of love?” the pope asked.
‘Never lose heart’
Before the Eucharistic celebration, Pope Francis met with the young people at the St. Mary Cathedral in Tokyo.
Pope Francis thanked the youth for their “friendly attention” and “for this time you have given me and for sharing something of your lives.”
He urged the young people to “never lose heart or set aside your dreams.”
“Give them plenty of room, dare to glimpse vast horizons and see what awaits you if you aspire to achieve them together,” he said.
He told the young people that “Japan needs you, and the world needs you, to be generous, cheerful and enthusiastic, capable of making a home for everyone.”
Pope Francis said the presence of the youth and the friendship that they offer “remind everyone that the future is not monochrome; if we are courageous, we can contemplate it in all the variety and diversity of what each individual person has to offer.”
He reminded them not to be afraid because “fear is always the enemy of goodness because it is the enemy of love and peace.”
“The great religions teach tolerance, harmony, and mercy, not fear, division, and conflict. Jesus constantly told his followers not to be afraid,” the pope said.
The pope’s presence in Thailand was a response to the invitation from the Thai government and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Thailand.
He visited the kingdom from Nov. 20-23 as a “pilgrim of peace and to promote inter-religious dialogue.”
The Catholic Church leader’s visit also occurred during the 350th anniversary of the establishment of the Apostolic Vicariate of Thailand, formerly known as Siam.
In May 2018, Nagasaki Mayor Tomohisa Taue invited the pontiff to visit Nagasaki and Hiroshima, Japan’s two cities that were destroyed by nuclear attacks during World War II.
On Dec. 17, 2018, Pope Francis expressed his desire to visit Japan during his meeting with Cardinal Manyo Maeda. After one month, the Vatican announced the plan to visit the country.