Pope Francis on Tuesday closed his visit to Japan by telling students at a Catholic university of the need to work toward a “hope-filled future” that is more inclusive by addressing the disconnects in society.
In his address at Sophia University, the pope said he sensed in Japan a desire to create a more humane, compassionate and merciful society.
“The university, focused on its mission, should always be open to creating an ‘archipelago’ capable of connecting realities that might be considered culturally and socially separate,” Pope Francis said. “The marginalized would be creatively incorporated into the life and curriculum of the university in an effort to bring about an educational approach aimed at reducing distances and disconnects.”
The pope also cited a “love for nature” as a typical aspect of Asian cultures and expressed a need to protect the planet.
Earlier parts of his Japan visit focused on an anti-nuclear message.
The 82-year-old Argentine landed in Tokyo Saturday before traveling to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the sites where more than 100,000 people were killed instantly by U.S. bombs dropped at the end of World War II in 1945.
In Nagasaki Sunday, Pope Francis called on political leaders to renounce nuclear weapons and abandon the arms race.
“I ask political leaders not to forget that these weapons cannot protect us from current threats to national and international security,” he said.
The pope has said it has long been a dream of his to visit Japan, and that he had longed to be sent there as a missionary more than 50 years ago. Out of the country’s 126 million residents, an estimated 440,000 are Catholic.
Before traveling to Japan, the pope visited Thailand to preach a message of religious tolerance and peace.