Pope Francis begins South Korea trip
Pope Francis began his first apostolic journey to Asia as he boarded the Alitalia plane that will take him from Rome’s International Airport to Seoul, in South Korea, where he is expected to arrive tomorrow at 10.30 (local time).
The main purpose of Francis’ six-day trip is for him to preside at a gathering of Asian Catholic youth on Friday, but the Pope has a tight scheduled. At noon tomorrow he will deliver a private mess at the Apostolic Nunciature, and then meet with Korean officials in a welcoming ceremony.
On Saturday, he will celebrate a Holy Mass for the beatification of Paul Yun Ji-Chung and other 123 Korean Martyrs who were victims of religious persecution during the 19th century.
His trip will conclude on Monday with a "Mass for Peace and Reconciliation" in the Myeong-dong cathedral in Seoul, the capital. Officials of the Catholic Church in South Korea, which counts about 10 percent of the population of 50 million, said they had asked the North to send a delegation to a papal Mass, but the North said they could not "for various reasons".
The Argentine Pope arrived at the airport carrying the traditional black suitcase where he keeps his personal items and documents in all his trips.