WelCom December 2019
Pope Francis arrived in Bangkok, on Wednesday 20 November where he was welcomed at the city’s International Airport by Thai authorities and bishops and was treated to full military honours.
Arriving in Thailand for a two-day visit, Pope Francis was greeted by 11 children – one for each of the country’s dioceses – dressed in traditional costumes and holding a Thai flag and a Vatican flag. Also on hand was Pope Francis’ second cousin, Sr Ana Rosa Sivori, a Salesian missionary in Thailand for more than 50 years and the official translator for the Pope’s stay, before he flew to Japan for a three-day visit 23–26 November.
The Pope visited Thailand to celebrate the 350th anniversary of the establishment of the Apostolic Vicariate of Siam Mission, the first Catholic jurisdiction in what was to become Thailand. His visit’s focus was on the about the witness, service and dialogue of mission.
Today, Thailand has 11 dioceses and some 389,000 Catholics. Although Catholics make up less than one per cent of the population, the Church runs hundreds of schools and dozens of hospitals, clinics, homes for the elderly and orphanages. Women religious are actively involved in combatting human trafficking, especially trafficking for prostitution.