Bishops' conference official and 70 imams receive appreciation certificates
Monsignor Vissanu Thanya-anan joins Thai Muslim religious leaders in prayer at a leadership training program in Bangkok on June 6. (Photo supplied)
The Catholic Church in Thailand should advance its relations with Islam in the spirit of dialogue with people of other religions, says a Catholic leader.
The observation was made by Monsignor Vissanu Thanya-anan, deputy secretary-general of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Thailand, after he and 70 imams were awarded appreciation certificates for their contributions to the Institute for Development of Islamic Leaders.
Msgr. Vissanu was the only non-Muslim participant in the institute’s religious leadership development program intended for Thai Muslim leaders. Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam awarded the certificates after the training session held at Government House in Bangkok on June 6.
“We [Catholics] should have a deep relationship with the Muslim community. However, it appears that we have a stronger tie with Buddhists relative to Muslims,” said Msgr. Vissanu, who served as undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue from 2008-12.
He said the relationship between the Catholic Church and Muslims is "great" but underlined the need for Catholics to develop a deeper relationship with their fellow minority community.
Deputy PM Wissanu emphasized that leadership required ethics and morality. “As Thailand is a diverse and pluralistic society, [religious] leaders need to stay informed and be able to apply knowledge,” he added.
He said the Thai government supported efforts toward religious leadership development.
According to the latest data from the National Statistical Office, Thailand has 3.6 million Muslims while Christians number 0.8 million of the estimated population of 70.18 million.
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