Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "It takes courage!" Pope Francis told Fr Ferruccio Brambillasca as he spoke about the latter's decision to go as a missionary to Japan.
Fr Brambillasca, who has been the superior general of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) for the past seven months, met the Pope after co-celebrating morning Mass with him at Domus Sanctae Marthae on Monday. PIME Vicar General Fr Davide Sciocco was also present at the service.
On this occasion, PIME's superior general gave the pope a DVD on the life of Blessed John Mazzucconi, PIME's first martyr in Oceania, and some letters by fellow PIME members addressed to the pontiff.
At the end of Mass, the pope briefly talked with all the guests. Fr Brambillasca, who lived in Japan for 15 years before he became PIME superior, invited Pope Francis to visit the East Asian nation.
It is well known that in his youth, the pontiff had expressed a desire to go as a missionary to Japan, but had to give it up when he fell ill, accepting, as he himself said in several interviews, to live the mission in Argentina.
"We'll see," the pontiff said when asked about an invitation to visit Japan.
AsiaNews has already reported that it is almost certain that the pope will visit South Korea this August. It is thus possible that he might also travel to its next-door neighbour, Japan.
Fr Brambillasca said he was prepare to teach the pope how to say a few Japanese words.
Previously, John Paul II called on PIME missionaries several times to help him learn a few sentences in the language of the people he visited.