BANGKOK — Arrangements are being prepared in expectation of an official visit to Thailand by Pope Francis this November, according to a Vatican source.
Pope Francis will be the first pontiff to visit Thailand in nearly four decades. The last trip was made by the late Pope John Paul II in 1984, during which he had an audience with the late King Rama IX and the Queen Mother.
The pope’s visit will coincide with the 350th anniversary of the founding of “Mission de Siam,” the assembly that oversees Roman Catholic missions in the Kingdom. It was established during the Ayutthaya period.
Speaking over the phone on Wednesday, the Apostolic Nunciature Embassy of the Holy See in Bangkok did not confirm the trip, but admitted that arrangements are in place.
The rumor came as the pope announced a visit to Japan, which will also take place in November.
Thailand is home to a minority population of Christians, which represents only 1.1 percent of the total population, according to census data collected in 2014. There are 617,492 Christians in the predominantly Buddhist country, with almost equal numbers of Catholics and Protestants.