Letter from Rome: The right pope for a changing Church

Francis astounds many believers and challenges their faith, just as a man from Nazareth did two millennia ago
Letter from Rome: The right pope for a changing Church

Pope Francis greets well-wishers before a Mass at St. Mary's Cathedral in Tokyo on Nov. 25. (Photo: Pierre Deletre/AFP)

For the 32nd time since his election as bishop of Rome nearly seven years ago, Pope Francis has left the Eternal City and the Italian peninsula to visit another patch of his far-flung, 1.2 billion-member flock.

The pope, who turns 83 in just a few weeks, is making a Nov. 19-26 apostolic journey to Thailand and Japan. It is his fourth such visit to Asia.

And as he always does at the start of such trips, he again greeted the journalists who are traveling with him not long after his plane was in the air. One of them took the opportunity of the informal exchange to ask Francis about his South American homeland.

"When are you going to Argentina?" the pope was asked. "He answered with a very clear 'I don't know' expression, and then told the journalist 'ask the Almighty'," according to one eyewitness.

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