Pope visits and praises Thailand as inspiration for peace
His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Phra Vajiraklaochaoyuhua and Her Majesty Queen Suthida Bajarasudhabimalalakshana have had an audience with Pope Francis , the head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City State, at Amphorn Sathan Residential Hall in the Dusit Palace, Bangkok, during the first papal visit to the country in 35 years.
Thais of all faiths also welcome Pope Francis, who praised Thailand as an inspiration for global peace and harmony before touching down in Bangkok last week.
“In this world that too frequently experiences discord, division, and exclusion,” Thailand has shown commitment to working hard “to promote harmony and a peaceful coexistence,” Pope Francis said in the video message released by the Vatican.
The Pope added that Thailand’s commitment, “can serve as an inspiration” for all the people around the world who are working to “promote a great, true development of our human family in solidarity, in justice and in living in peace.”
During the meeting with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, diplomats, and religious leaders, Pope Francis urged them to care for abused children, women, refugees, and migrants. He expanded on that message during a Holy Mass attended by over 70,000 people at Supachalasai National Stadium in the capital.
“The crisis of migration cannot be ignored. Thailand itself, known for the welcome it has given to migrants and refugees, has experienced this crisis as a result of the tragic flight of refugees from neighboring countries,” Pope Francis said.
“Let us not deprive our communities of seeing their faces, their wounds, their smiles, and their lives. Let us not prevent them from experiencing the merciful balm of God’s love that heals their wounds and pains,” he said.
The Pope also met with the Supreme Patriarch, the leader of the Buddhist religion in Thailand, and visited St. Louis Hospital in Bangkok to comfort and cheer the patients there.
About 388,000 people in Thailand are Catholic, which is about 1 percent of the population. The visit coincides with the 350th anniversary of the establishment of the Apostolic Vicariate of Siam, created in 1669, marked the introduction of Catholicism to the country.
“I trust that my visit will help to highlight the importance of inter-religious dialogue, mutual understanding, and fraternal cooperation,” Pope Francis said.
He was also welcomed to Thailand by his cousin Sister Ana Rosa, a 77-year-old missionary who has been in Thailand for 54 years. She served as his translator during the visit.
On Saturday, Pope Francis departed Thailand for Japan, the next stop on his Asian journey.
Photo courtesy of thainews.prd.go.th