Thai government has been supporting the church's humanitarian and spiritual activities, says Cardinal Francis Xavier
Cardinal Francis Xavier Kriengsak Kovitvanit, archibishop of Bangkok, Cardinal Fernando Filoni and Cardinal Michael Michai Kitbunchu cut the ribbon at the opening ceremony of the celebration of the 350th anniversary of the Church's Mission to Siam on May 18, 2019. (Photo: Pinyo Tawinwat/UCA News)
Catholic Bishops in Thailand have met with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to thank him for the government’s support for the church’s humanitarian and spiritual activities in the Buddhist-majority Southeast Asian nation.
Cardinal Francis Xavier Kriengsak Kovitvanit, Archbishop of Bangkok, led a delegation from the Catholic Bishops Conference of Thailand (CBCT) and paid a visit to the premier in the nation’s capital on Nov. 29, MGR Online reported.
The delegation specifically thanked the government for support during the various pan-Asian church gatherings including the 50th General Conference of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) held last month.
“The Christian leaders in Asia who attended the meeting[s] were impressed with the government's warm welcome and openness to all religions in the country to co-exist peacefully amidst the diversity of religions and cultures,” said the delegation during the meeting.
Another major event that occurred in the Thai Catholic Church was Pope Francis’ historic visit to the country from Nov. 20-23, 2019.
The pope’s visit was part of the Thai Church’s celebration of the 350th anniversary of the founding of the Mission to Siam, present-day Thailand. The occasion also commemorated the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Thailand and the Vatican that began in 1969.
The previous Papal Visit to Thailand was in 1984 when Pope John Paul II visited the country. King Maha Vajiralongkorn, who was then the crown prince, had greeted the pontiff.
During the meeting with the bishops, Prayut reiterated the Thai administration’s resolve “to take care of people of all groups and religions in Thailand under a multicultural society to live together in peace and unity.”
“The government is ready to support and facilitate various missions. of the Church in Thailand Including assigning relevant people to follow up on the progress of the accreditation of Catholic temples in Thailand,” said the former military chief.
Earlier in August, the Thailand administration approved three Catholic Churches after a 93-year-long wait in a bid to foster religious harmony in the Buddhist-majority nation.
The Cultural Ministry had approved Saint Thomas the Apostle Church in Bangkok, Saint Monica Church in Nan Province, and Saint Joseph the Worker Church in Phrae Province.
The kingdom recognized 57 Catholic churches until 1929 and after these approvals, the count rose to sixty.
As of 2019, Thailand has some 388,000 Catholics, forming roughly half a percent of some 69 million people in the nation.
Catholic Church in Thailand has two archdioceses, nine dioceses, and 502 parishes.
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