The three-day apostolic visit to Thailand of Pope Francis beginning Wednesday is a “pilgrim of peace” and a “moment of grace” for not only Catholics but also for  Thai people of all faiths, said Monseigneur Wissanu Thanya-anan, deputy secretary-general of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Thailand (CBCT).

“Pope Francis is a bridge-builder, a prophet who is a bearer of auspicious message to all,” he said.

Pope Francis, who is scheduled to arrive in Bangkok on Wednesday, is visiting Thailand and Japan on November 20-26. It will be a second visit of a Pontiff to Thailand in 35 years after Pope Saint John Paul II in 1984.

Monseigneur Wissanu said that in the world full of conflicts and facing disruptions, Pope Francis will emphasize his message of peaceful co-existence. “This an era that people of all faiths must walk together to face the challenges,” he said in an interview with Thai PBS.

He said Pope Francis has praised Thailand for being an open society with religious diversity which should serve as an inspiration for societies around the world.

He said during his visit here the Pontiff is expected to call on countries to earnestly act on the issue of climate change and to reduce the economic inequality.  “He wants to see us do away with the so-called culture of throwing away – the habit of living in excess,” he said.

Pope Francis will have a busy schedule while in Bangkok, meeting with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, government officials, diplomats and representatives of civic organizations at the Government House on Thursday morning during which he will deliver a speech.

He will later visit the Buddhist Supreme Patriarch at Wat Rachabophit before meeting with medical personnel and visit patients and people with disabilities at St. Louis Hospital on Sathorn Road

In the evening he is scheduled to have an audience with HM the King at the Royal Palace before attending mass at the National Stadium.

On Friday morning, he will meet with priests, religious, seminarians and catechists at St. Peter’s parish before meeting with the bishops of Thailand and members of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences at the Shrine of Blessed Nicholas Bunkerd Kitbamrung.

He will later have a private meeting with members of the Society of Jesus before going to Chulalongkorn University to meet Christian leaders and the leaders of other religions. In the evening he will attend mass with young people in Assumption Cathedral.

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