02/19/2013, 00.00
THAILAND - VATICAN
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Benedict XVI and Caritas in Veritate inspire Thai Businessmen

by Weena Kowitwanij
Businessman Paul M. Suvij Suvaruchiporn underscores the importance of the papal encyclical during the clashes between red and yellow shirts in Bangkok. Helping the poor, non-divinisation of the state and reference to God are necessary to build democracy.

Bangkok (AsiaNews) - The thoughts of Benedict XVI, especially his Encyclical Caritas in Veritate on social issues, have inspired and inspire Thai business people, Catholic and non-Catholic, in their professional actions and in their everyday life, this according to Paul Mary Suvij Suvaruchiporn, a businessman and former chairman of HMC Polymers, part of Petroleum Authority of Thailand, who spoke to AsiaNews.

In 1991, Suvaruchiporn established the Catholic Business Executives Group (CBEG), a network of Catholic business people open to all, linked to Serra Thailand, an organisation that helps believers through Biblical groups to bear witness to their Christian faith in society and pray for priestly and religious vocations.

Via the CBEG, business people are invited each month to take part in Biblical groups to share their faith with the help of a priest. Messages and discussions are relayed via e-mail or social networks to members that could not participate in person.

For Suvaruchiporn, Benedict XVI had a lot of influence on his business career, a source of help and inspiration in his choices and concerns.

Faith must be at the centre of one's conscience, he explained, and Caritas in Veritate played an important role in his life during the Thailand's period of political confusion in April-May 2010, when clashes between the supporters of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra (the red shirts) and then Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva (the yellow shirts) left the country in a situation of economic and political deadlock.

In those days, the CBEG sent excerpts from Caritas in Veritate to influential people in politics and business, Suvaruchiporn said, for, as the Encyclical said, "The current crisis obliges us to re-plan our journey, to set ourselves new rules and to discover new forms of commitment, to build on positive experiences and to reject negative ones. The crisis thus becomes an opportunity for discernment, in which to shape a new vision for the future (N. 21)."

On another occasion, another of Benedict XVI's "social" thoughts was circulated to criticise the lack of action against the miserable conditions of the poor, namely that "Just as the creation account de-divinizes the cosmos, Christianity de-divinizes the state."

On the issue of politics, "we should remember Pope Benedict XVI's social thoughts on the state and democracy in which he insists on the impossibility of guaranteeing democracy without any reference to God."

"Such a reference to God is no one's duty but our own if we want to think, bring and link it to Thailand's democratic order," Suvaruchiporn added.

Paul M. Suvij Suvaruchiporn is well known in Thailand. In 2006, he spoke about his own experience to the Asian Mission Congress in Chiang Mai.

During his address, he explained how he chose to rely on the Church's social doctrine rather than consumerism and profit when his business went through a tough time.

The CBEG also helps Buddhist business people uphold spiritual values in the economy.

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