In Japan, where the pope stopped Nov. 23-26, he encouraged the bishops and spoke with them about the challenges of leading a very small Church, but which bears "living water, the Gospel of Jesus."
One full day of the journey was devoted to visits to the ground zeroes of the 1945 atomic bombs in Nagasaki and Hiroshima.
Pope Francis recalled that "Protecting all life" was the motto of his visit to Japan, "a country which bears the scars of atomic bombing and is the spokesman of the fundamental right to life and peace for the whole world."
In both places the pope prayed and met survivors and family members of victims. "I reiterated the firm condemnation of nuclear weapons and the hypocrisy of talking about peace by building and selling war bombs," he said.
He also noted the resiliency of the Japanese people, who have also been rebuilding following the 2011 triple disaster of earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear power plant disaster.
God's love was what gave power, he said, to the testimony of the Christian martyrs of Nagasaki, including St. Paul Miki and his 25 companions.
Love also supported Blessed Justo Takayama Ukon "and many anonymous men and women who kept their faith in the long times of persecution," he said.
Pope Francis dedicated one meeting in Tokyo to young people, who, he said, are often victims of "meaningless emptiness." He listened to their questions and dreams and encouraged them to oppose bullying and to overcome fear "by opening themselves to the love of God, in prayer and in service to others."
He also met the country's prime minister, emperor, and authorities.
"Remaining faithful to its religious and moral values, and open to the Gospel message, Japan could be a leading country for a more just and peaceful world and for harmony between man and the environment," he stated.
Francis concluded by entrusting the people of Thailand and Japan to the "goodness and the providence of God."
(Story continues below)
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
At Catholic News Agency, our team is committed to reporting the truth with courage, integrity, and fidelity to our faith. We provide news about the Church and the world, as seen through the teachings of the Catholic Church. When you subscribe to the CNA UPDATE, we'll send you a daily email with links to the news you need and, occasionally, breaking news.
As part of this free service you may receive occasional offers from us at EWTN News and EWTN. We won't rent or sell your information, and you can unsubscribe at any time.