Tens of hundreds of Thais from totally different religions are gathering in Bangkok to glimpse Pope Francis, who arrives right here Wednesday for a four-day go to to the Buddhist-majority kingdom, the primary by a pontiff in 35 years.
On the eve of the pope’s scheduled arrival, 35 college students and their lecturers from the Attarakeeyah Islamiyah College, a Muslim campus in Thailand’s insurgency-stricken Deep South, traveled to the nation’s capital to hitch the crowds heading there in anticipation of the papal go to.
The members of the varsity’s refrain mentioned they had been wanting ahead to becoming a member of the live performance choir at Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn College in performing songs of peace in entrance of Francis. The chief of the Catholic Church is scheduled to cease by the campus on Friday afternoon to fulfill with leaders of Christian denominations and different religions.
“It’s the prime honor for us to have an opportunity to carry out music of worldwide peace. We imagine the songs current the that means of residing collectively, no matter variety, make peace on the earth,” Nongma Madama, who directs the refrain from Attarakeeyah, a college in Narathiwat province, advised BenarNews.
On his first full day in Thailand, Pope Francis is scheduled to fulfill individually with Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha, King Maha Vajiralongkorn (Rama X), and Somdet Phra Maha Muniwong, the nation’s supreme Buddhist patriarch, in addition to go to sufferers and employees on the St. Louis Hospital in Bangkok.
On Thursday evening, the pontiff will preside over a Holy Mass on the Nationwide Stadium, in accordance with an official program launched by the Catholic Bishops’ Convention of Thailand. He may even maintain a Mass for younger individuals on the Assumption Cathedral in Bangkok on Friday afternoon, after conferences with Christian leaders and Catholic Bishops in the course of the morning.
“It’s a good factor the Pope will go to Thailand as a result of it has been over 30 years now because the newest papal go to. The federal government is honored to welcome His Holiness,” Narumol Pinyosinwat, a spokeswoman for the Thai authorities, advised BenarNews.
The pope’s arrival in Thailand coincides with the 350th anniversary of the institution of the primary Catholic mission there. The nation’s almost 400,000-strong Catholic group represents lower than 1 p.c of the Thai inhabitants of 69 million individuals.
Earlier than he launched into his journey to Thailand, Francis despatched a video message to the Thai individuals.
“[A]s a multi-ethnic and various nation with wealthy religious and cultural traditions, Thailand has labored exhausting to advertise concord and peaceable co-existence, not solely amongst its personal individuals but additionally all through the area of Southeast Asia,” the 76-year-old pontiff mentioned.
“On this world that too often experiences discord, division and exclusion, this dedication to forge a unity respectful of the dignity of each man, girl and little one can function an inspiration for the efforts that folks of excellent will all over the world are making to advertise higher growth of our human household in solidarity, in justice and residing in peace.”
He mentioned he hoped his go to would strengthen “bonds of friendship” between Catholics and Buddhists, “who bear eloquent witness to the worth of tolerance and concord which can be so attribute of your individuals.”
The pope will finish his go to to Thailand on Saturday, when he’ll depart for Japan, the following and closing leg of his newest Asian journey.
Francis is the primary pope to go to Thailand since John Paul II got here right here in 1984.
Wanwanach Worarakkit, a Thai Buddhist, was a toddler learning on the St. Joseph’s Convent when the primary pope visited her nation.
Wanwanach, 44, who was taught to recite Catholic prayers in English, clearly remembers the day when she witnessed John Paul II maintain a Mass at a stadium within the capital.
“My Christian buddies walked as much as His Holiness. I, as a Buddhist, simply prayed, however I felt the Mass’s massiveness and the kindness of the Pope,” Wanwanach advised BenarNews.
Nontarat Phaicharoen and Matahari Ismail contributed to this report from Bangkok and Narathiwat, Thailand.