SEOUL— Pope Francis on Monday wrapped up his inaugural visit to Asia, one that displayed a mix of style and substance, melding the pontiff's signature homey touches with an earnest outreach to a continent that holds intense interest for the Vatican—and a full slate of challenges.
The pope's visit to Asia—Catholicism's "great frontier," as he described it—was quintessential Francis, from the choice of a Kia 000270.SE -1.48% compact that was dwarfed by the hulking black SUVs carrying his entourage to the impromptu baptism of the father of a victim of the Sewol ferry tragedy. In between came a careful outreach to China, a full-throated warning of the dangers of economic growth and an appeal for peace for "our whole war-weary world."
The pope closed his five-day trip with a Mass for peace and reconciliation of the divided Korean peninsula in Seoul's Myeongdong Cathedral, a church that helped shelter pro-democracy dissidents during the military dictatorship in the 1970s and 1980s. In the audience were a group of so-called "comfort women," or Koreans who were forced into sex slavery by Japanese soldiers during World War II.