.- Pope Francis’ journey to Thailand is a significant second for the small Catholic neighborhood, and marks an necessary anniversary within the lifetime of the Catholic Church within the southeast Asian nation, the secretary normal of the Thailand bishops’ convention mentioned.
“It’s actually significant although now we have a short while,” Bishop Vira Arpondratana advised CNA Nov. 20, the day Pope Francis landed in Bangkok for a three-day go to to Thailand.
The Catholic Church in Thailand is celebrating 350 years of Holy See recognition of the Church in Thailand. Practically 200 years after two Portuguese Dominican missionaries first introduced the Catholic religion to Thailand, Pope Alexander VII established the Mission of Siam in 1669.
This anniversary is important, Bishop Arpondratana mentioned, as a result of it provides Thai Catholics a possibility “to consider the previous and thank God for the current and [to think about] what we must always do, not solely because the Thai Church” however because the Church in all of Asia.
“We’ve got to assist others, not solely obtain [the faith] from Europe, however as a Catholic Thai Church, [to do] the small good that we are able to. We are able to do one thing,” he mentioned.
The Mission of Siam was elevated to an apostolic vicariate 4 years later, in 1673, and given jurisdiction over Malaysia, southern Burma, and Sumatra. By the tip of the 19th century, Catholicism had unfold all through the nation of Thailand and elements of the encompassing areas.
With this anniversary, “we attempt to assist the Catholics, who’re the minority — half a p.c — to consider the previous: Who have been the missionaries? Why did they arrive right here?” the bishop mentioned.
“After pondering of the previous, at current, now we have to thank God, due to how God blesses us.”
The secretary normal of the bishops’ convention of Thailand, Arpondratana advised media in Bangkok Wednesday that Pope Francis’ go to is a joyous event for Catholics within the nation.
He additionally invited Catholics to unite in prayer for the pope. “The love of God will probably be amongst us, Catholics who collect in his title,” he mentioned.
There are round 389,000 Catholics in Thailand, solely zero.5% of the inhabitants of over 65.5 million. Organizers count on there to be round 50,000 folks in attendance at Pope Francis’ Mass within the nationwide stadium Nov. 21 and one other 20,000 to be current in and out of doors St. Peter’s Parish for Francis’ assembly with clergymen, seminarians, and spiritual Nov. 22.
There are round 51,000 Catholics in Arpondratana’s diocese, which he has led for 10 years. This implies the Chiang Mai diocese’s total Catholic inhabitants of 1.7% is thrice above the nationwide common.
Bishop Arpondratana mentioned there are greater than 1,350 Catholics touring in a single day from his diocese, which is in northern Thailand, to Bangkok to be current on the papal occasions. He mentioned in some circumstances, there have been folks that they had to assist acquire IDs to have the ability to journey to see Pope Francis.
1000’s are additionally touring from close by nations; the most important group represented after Thailand is Vietnam with four,500 folks touring to Bangkok.
After arriving in Bangkok simply earlier than midday Nov. 20, Pope Francis had a day and night of relaxation earlier than a busy two days of conferences with Thai authorities, King Maha Vajiralongkorn, non secular leaders, and Catholic devoted Nov. 21-22.
On the airport, the pope greeted his second cousin, Salesian Sr. Ana Rosa Sivori, who he requested to be his private interpreter all through the journey. Initially from Argentina, Sivori has been a missionary in Thailand for over 50 years.