Pope hails Thailand as inspiration for global peace

Pope hails Thailand as inspiration for global peace

Anticipation builds in Catholic community for visit that starts Wednesday

Pope Francis, delivering a message to Thailand, has called the country an inspiration for global peace and harmony. (Vaticannews)
Pope Francis, delivering a message to Thailand, has called the country an inspiration for global peace and harmony. (Vaticannews)

Pope Francis has called Thailand an inspiration for global peace and harmony, in a message ahead of his visit to the country next week.

“In this world that too frequently experiences discord, division and exclusion”, Thailand has shown commitment to work hard “to promote harmony and a peaceful coexistence”, Pope Francis said in the video message released by the Vatican on Friday ahead of his visit that begind on Nov 20.

That commitment, he said, “can serve as an inspiration” for all the people around the world who are working to “promote a great, true development of our human family in solidarity, in justice and in living in peace”, according to a report published by Vatican News.

His words came in a video message to the people of Thailand as the country prepares to welcome Pope Francis on his 32nd Apostolic Journey, which then moves on to Japan.

This is the first papal visit to Thailand in nearly four decades, following the journey made by Pope John Paul II in 1984.

The trip will mark the 350th anniversary of the establishment of the Apostolic Vicariate of Siam, created in 1669, which marked the introduction of the Church to the country.

The pope will meet His Majesty the King and the Supreme Patriarch. He will hold two masses in Bangkok, and also reunite with his second cousin, Sister Ana Rosa Sivori, 77, who runs a Catholic girls’ school in Udon Thani province (story continues below).

Pope Francis said he intends to meet and “encourage” the Catholic community of Thailand “in their faith and in the contribution they make to the whole of society”.

Today the country’s 388,000-strong Catholic community makes up less than 1% of the population, the majority residing in the North.

The pope said he is hoping to “strengthen the bonds of friendship that we share with many Buddhist brothers and sisters”. The vast majority of the Thai population is Buddhist – 93%.

“I trust that my visit will help to highlight the importance of inter-religious dialogue, mutual understanding and fraternal cooperation”, said the pope.

Finally, Pope Francis thanked the people of Thailand “from the bottom of” his heart for all of the preparation that is going into his visit, and assured that he was praying for everyone in Thailand. 

He will leave Thailand on Nov 23 for Japan, where he will visit Tokyo, Nagasaki, and Hiroshima before departing on Nov 26.

Since being elected six years ago, Pope Francis has made two trips to Asia, visiting the Philippines and Sri Lanka in 2014 followed by Myanmar and Bangladesh in 2017.

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