Pope Francis kicks off Asian tour in Thailand before heading to Japan

Pope Francis was welcomed by Thai Prime Minister, Prayut Chan-ocha. It has been 35 years since the late John Paul II was received by the Thai government, the first visit by a Pope.

Pope Francis to meet Thai King

Pope Francis is scheduled to meet with Thai King, Maha Vajiralongkorn and take a string of meetings with the Thai Catholic community as well as visit several public locations during his stay in Thailand from November 20-23.

(Photograph:AFP)

Family reunion in the works

Pope Francis arrived in Thailand on Wednesday to meet with its small but devoted Catholic minority on a seven-day Asian trip that will include a family reunion in Bangkok and take his anti-nuclear message to Japan.

Waiting for a glimpse of the pontiff, excited Catholics thronged around the Vatican's Bangkok embassy and St Louis Hospital to take selfies.

(Photograph:Reuters)

'Act with responsibility': Pope on migration crisis

Pope Francis urged international communities to 'act with responsibility' on the migration crisis as he addressed the civil society and dignitaries in Bangkok. The Papal added that the migration crisis 'cannot be ignored' and that there should be effective measures to ensure the refugees' rights and dignity.

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Meeting supreme Buddhist patriarch

Pope Francis met Thailand's supreme Buddhist patriarch at the start of an official visit, Somdet Phra Maha Muniwong, who at 91 is nearly a decade older than the pope.

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No to exploitation of women and children

Pope Francis on Thursday condemned the exploitation of women and children in Thailand, which is notorious for its sex tourism, calling the violence, abuse and enslavement they suffer evils that must be uprooted. "I think, too, of all those women and children of our time, especially those who are wounded, violated and exposed to every form of exploitation, enslavement, violence and abuse," he said at Government House.

Thailand attracts some 35 million tourists a year and the government has sought to shed the country’s reputation for sex tourism.

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AI-composed song on Pope

Few aspects of life escape the touch of high tech in cutting-edge Japan, including an official song written to welcome Pope Francis when he visits Japan from Saturday. Written by Jun Inoue, the song, "Protect all Life - The Signs of the Times", is based on the theme of the pope's Japan visit and was partly composed using an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered programme Inoue created that can write a piece of music in a few seconds.

(Photograph:AFP)

End of capital punishment?

Japanese activists opposed to capital punishment hope the visit of Pope Francis this weekend will help to soften public opinion in a nation where most people still support the death penalty. Pope Francis, who will visit Japan from Nov. 23 to 26, said last year the death penalty is neither Christian nor humane. The Vatican then formally changed its teaching to declare the death penalty inadmissible whatever the circumstances.

(Photograph:Reuters)