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Pope heading to Thailand to encourage Catholic minority

Pope Francis is heading to Thailand to encourage members of a minority Catholic community in a Buddhist nation and highlight his admiration for their missionary ancestors who brought the faith centuries ago and endured persecution.

After an overnight flight, Francis arrives in Bangkok on Wednesday afternoon and will rest for the remainder of the day before his first full day of public appearances Thursday.

Francis’ three-day visit, followed by three days in Japan, will be a welcome break for the 82-year-old pope. He is enduring fresh opposition from Catholic conservatives in the U.S. over his just-concluded meeting on the Amazon as well as a new financial scandal at home.

Nurses of St.Louis hospital get themselves photographed with a life size statue of Pope Francis in Bangkok, Thailand, Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019. Pope Francis arrives in Thailand on Wednesday for the first visit here by the head of the Roman Catholic Church since St. John Paul II in 1984. (AP PhotoManish Swarup)

Huge posters of Pope Francis poster are displayed at the entrance of Assumption Cathedral in Bangkok, Thailand, Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019. Pope Francis arrives in Thailand on Wednesday for the first visit here by the head of the Roman Catholic Church since St. John Paul II in 1984. (AP PhotoManish Swarup)

Pope Francis sits in an airplane at the Rome Leonardo da Vinci airport, Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019. Pope Francis' three-day visit to Thailand, followed by three days in Japan, will be a welcome break for the 82-year-old pope. He is enduring fresh opposition from Catholic conservatives in the U.S. over his just-concluded meeting on the Amazon as well as a new financial scandal at home. (AP PhotoAlessandra Tarantino)

Pope Francis waves as he boards an airplane to Thailand, at the Rome Leonardo da Vinci airport, Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019. Pope Francis' three-day visit to Thailand, followed by three days in Japan, will be a welcome break for the 82-year-old pope. He is enduring fresh opposition from Catholic conservatives in the U.S. over his just-concluded meeting on the Amazon as well as a new financial scandal at home. (AP PhotoAlessandra Tarantino)

Pope Francis waves as he boards an airplane to Thailand, at the Rome Leonardo da Vinci airport, Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019. Pope Francis' three-day visit to Thailand, followed by three days in Japan, will be a welcome break for the 82-year-old pope. He is enduring fresh opposition from Catholic conservatives in the U.S. over his just-concluded meeting on the Amazon as well as a new financial scandal at home. (AP PhotoAlessandra Tarantino)

Workers drive past a Pope Francis poster placed at the entrance of Assumption cathedral in Bangkok, Thailand, Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019. Pope Francis arrives in Thailand on Wednesday for the first visit here by the head of the Roman Catholic Church since St. John Paul II in 1984. (AP PhotoManish Swarup)

A nun guides her students wearing Pope Francis t-shirt inside a convent in Bangkok, Thailand, Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019. Pope Francis arrives in Thailand on Wednesday for the first visit here by the head of the Roman Catholic Church since St. John Paul II in 1984. (AP PhotoManish Swarup)

Students wait for transportation next to a poster of Pope Francis in Bangkok, Thailand, Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019. Pope Francis arrives in Thailand on Wednesday for the first visit here by the head of the Roman Catholic Church since St. John Paul II in 1984. (AP PhotoManish Swarup)

People walk past a banner welcoming Pope Francis in Bangkok, Thailand, Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019. Pope Francis arrives in Thailand on Wednesday for the first visit here by the head of the Roman Catholic Church since St. John Paul II in 1984. (AP PhotoManish Swarup)

A life size statue of Pope Francis is placed at the St.Louis hospital, where Pope is scheduled to visit during his stay in Bangkok, Thailand, Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019. Pope Francis arrives in Thailand on Wednesday for the first visit here by the head of the Roman Catholic Church since St. John Paul II in 1984. (AP PhotoManish Swarup)

Workers prepare the stage at the National stadium from where Pope Francis is scheduled to conduct holy mass on Thursday, in Bangkok, Thailand, Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019. Pope Francis arrives in Thailand on Wednesday for the first visit here by the head of the Roman Catholic Church since St. John Paul II in 1984. (AP PhotoManish Swarup)

People pray at the Assumption Cathedral as a caricature of Pope Francis is placed alongside in Bangkok, Thailand, Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019. Pope Francis arrives in Thailand on Wednesday for the first visit here by the head of the Roman Catholic Church since St. John Paul II in 1984. (AP PhotoManish Swarup)

A girl walks past Pope Francis poster pasted on a wall near Assumption cathedral in Bangkok, Thailand, Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019. Pope Francis arrives in Thailand on Wednesday for the first visit here by the head of the Roman Catholic Church since St. John Paul II in 1984. (AP PhotoManish Swarup)

Nurses of St.Louis hospital get themselves photographed with a life size statue of Pope Francis in Bangkok, Thailand, Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019. Pope Francis arrives in Thailand on Wednesday for the first visit here by the head of the Roman Catholic Church since St. John Paul II in 1984. (AP PhotoManish Swarup)