Pope calls for Christians to 'spread the word'
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Pope calls for Christians to 'spread the word'

Pope Francis arrives at St Peter's Parish church in Sampran district of Nakhon Pathom province on Friday. (Photo by Chanat Katanyu)
Pope Francis arrives at St Peter's Parish church in Sampran district of Nakhon Pathom province on Friday. (Photo by Chanat Katanyu)

NAKHON PATHOM: Pope Francis on Friday urged priests, nuns and the faithful to find new ways to "spread the word".

“We need to seek new ways of spreading the word, ways that are capable of mobilising and awakening a desire to know the Lord,” he said at meeting with priests, nuns and religious leaders during a visit to St Peter's Parish in Sam Phran district.

He said he was saddened to learn that for many people in Thailand, Christianity was “a foreign faith, a religion for foreigners".

The Pope urged an inculturation of the Gospel which allows it to have a “Thai face and flesh”, and not be seen as a religion only for foreigners.

Sampran is Thailand’s second biggest Catholic community after Ban Tha Rae in Sakon Nakhon's Muang district.

“This should spur us to find ways to confess the faith ‘in dialect’, like a mother who sings lullabies to her child,” he said. “With that same intimacy, let us give faith a Thai face and flesh.”

It was about more than making translations, he said, “it is about letting the Gospel be stripped of fine but foreign garb; to let it ‘sing’ with the native music of this land and inspire the hearts of our brothers and sisters with the same beauty that set our own hearts on fire.”

He added that it is “vital that the Church today be able to proclaim the Gospel to all, in all places, on all occasions, without hesitation and without fear”.

A multi-faith choir comprising Muslims and ethnic minority Christians will sing for Pope Francis at Chulalongkorn University on Friday. (Video by Patpon Subpaitoon)

An estimated 18,000 Catholics from Sampran and nearby provinces gathered at St Peter’s Parish to greet and welcome the Pope. The crowd had waited patiently from the early hours, and stretched into the distance.

Most of them wore white and yellow caps and waved Vatican flags and shouted “Viva il Papa!" (Italian for "Long Live the Pope") as the popemobile made its way through the parish.

Deacon Paul Loonubon, 29, a seminarian for the Diocese of Udon Thani, said Thailand was fortunate to have the Pope visiting. "The Pope gives the world peace, and he gives peace to my heart."

A 17-year old student, Kornkamol Khetchan, who is studying at St Peter's School, said she felt lucky to have the chance to receive a blessing from the Pope and to see him with her own eyes.

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