The first Jesuit Pope in the history of the Church, who once wanted to go as a missionary to Japan, has his eyes fixed on Asia, the continent where two-thirds of the world’s population lives but where Christians count for a minority 3% , and Catholics 2%. He wishes to share the Good News of Jesus with the many Asian peoples who do not yet know him, and to build good relations with the leaders and followers of the other major religions that live there.
Benedict XVI did not visit Asia, but Francis is on record as saying that he intends to do so. Many Asian Church leaders say they expect him to make his first visit to their continent in the second half of 2014. He has received several invitations, including from the Philippines – the country with the largest Catholic population, Korea –a country with a vibrant Catholic Church, Japan - which he visited in 1987, where Shintoism and Buddhism are the dominant religions, and Sri Lanka, a predominantly Buddhist country which is still recovering from a bloody civil war and massive violation of human rights. The Vatican has yet to announce any such trip.