Pope Francis, center, offers prayer during his meeting with priests, religious seminarians and catechists at Saint Peter's Parish on the outskirts of Bangkok, Thailand, Friday, Nov. 22, 2019. Pope Francis urged more efforts to combat the "humiliation" of women and children forced into prostitution as he began a busy visit Thursday to Thailand, where human trafficking and poverty help fuel the sex tourism industry. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

Francis fulfills dream, goes to Japan as missionary pope

November 22, 2019 - 7:33 pm

TOKYO (AP) — Pope Francis will fulfill his dream to be a missionary in Japan when he arrives for a three-day visit with two main aims: to appeal for nuclear disarmament and minister to a tiny Catholic flock with a rich but bloody history.

Francis travels Saturday from Thailand to another Asian country where Catholics are a minority — less than 0.5% of Japan’s 127 million people, most of them loosely affiliated with Buddhism or Shinto, or both.

The community he will find has changed dramatically with an influx of foreign workers, who make up more than half of Japan’s Catholic population of 440,000.

Francis will minister to them, including in Nagasaki, which remains a center of Catholicism centuries after St. Francis Xavier first brought Christianity to the archipelago in 1549.

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