Pope to travel to Japan in November

Francis himself made the announcement on the plane taking him to Panama for the 34th World Youth Day. Visiting Iraq is too dangerous at present.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis will travel to Japan in November. Francis himself made the announcement in an answer to a Japanese reporter on the plane taking him to Panama for the 34th World Youth Day.

Responding to questions by several journalist, acting Vatican Press Office director Alessandro Gisotti said that “The Apostolic Journey to Japan is under study. As the Holy Father already said on other occasions, he really wishes to visit that country.

“Regarding a possible visit to Iraq, as the Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin already said on his return from that country last December, the conditions do not exist at present for a visit by the Holy Father.”

Francis has expressed a desire to visit Iraq, but local bishops told him that the country is not safe.

Another reporter gave the Pope the drawing of a young migrant who died at sea with his report card sewn in his clothes. The Pope was moved, adding that he was going to talk about it upon his return.

Answering a question about the walls built to stop migrants in Tijuana, on the border between Mexico and the United States, the pontiff said to read the editorial in the Osservatore Romano titled ‘I Muri della Paura’ (The walls of fear).

When the journalist told the Holy Father that in Tijuana, he saw a wall that “reaches all the way to the ocean”, Francis responded calling it “madness”, adding that "fear makes us crazy."

The Pope left Rome this morning at 9.30 am (local time) and is scheduled to arrive in Panama at 4.30 pm (local time), 9.30 pm GMT.