11/21/2019, 11.41
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Pope in Thailand: An example of welcome for migrants

"The international community acts with responsibility and foresight", to "solve the problems that lead to this tragic exodus". Freedom, dialogue, fraternity and the protection of children are the other themes touched by Pope Francis today in Thailand dedicated to meetings with the country's political, civil and religious authorities and also to healthcare workers and patients cared for in a Catholic hospital.

Bangkok (AsiaNews) - Freedom, dialogue, fraternity and also help to migrants and protection of children. These are the many themes touched by Pope Francis during the day in Thailand dedicated to meetings with the country's political, civil and religious authorities and also to healthcare workers and patients cared for in a Catholic hospital.

In all the meetings Francis dwelt on the Thai people’s welcoming spirit. The day started at 9 (2 GMT) at the Governmental House in Bangkok for the welcome ceremony. Greeted by the Prime Minister of Thailand, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, with whom he had a private interview, the Pope then met with political and religious authorities, representatives of civil society and members of the diplomatic corps of Thailand.

Emphasizing the country's tradition of hospitality, which he also highlighted in the subsequent meeting with the Buddhist Patriarch, Francis said to them that "the challenges facing our world today are indeed global problems, embracing the entire human family and calling for a firm commitment to international justice and solidarity between peoples”.

" As a multi-ethnic and diverse nation, Thailand has long known the importance of building harmony and peaceful coexistence between its numerous ethnic groups, while showing respect and appreciation for different cultures, religious groups, thoughts and ideas. Our age is marked by a globalization that is all too often viewed in narrowly economic terms, tending to erase the distinguishing features that shape the beauty and soul of our peoples. Yet the experience of a unity that respects and makes room for diversity serves as an inspiration and incentive for all those concerned about the kind of world we wish to leave to our children.”

"This land bears the name “freedom”. We know that freedom is possible only if we are capable of feeling co-responsible for one another and of eliminating every form of inequality. Hence the need to ensure that individuals and communities can have access to education, dignified labour and health care, and in this way attain the indispensable minimal levels of sustainability that can enable an integral human development. Here I would like to dwell briefly on the movements of migration that are one of the defining signs of our time. Not so much for the movements in themselves, as for the conditions in which they take place, a phenomenon that represents one of the principal moral issues facing our generation”.

The Pope praised the help offered by Thailand to migrants and refugees and renewed the hope that " the international community will act with responsibility and foresight, will work to resolve the issues that have led to this tragic exodus, and will promote safe, orderly and regulated migration. May every nation devise effective means for protecting the dignity and rights of migrants and refugees, who face dangers, uncertainty and exploitation in their quest for freedom and a decent life for their families. It is not just about migrants; it is also about the face we want to give to our societies. Here I think, too, of all those women and children of our time, especially those who are wounded, violated and exposed to every form of exploitation, enslavement, violence and abuse. I express my appreciation for the Thai government’s efforts to extirpate this scourge, and for all those private individuals and organizations working to uproot this evil and to provide ways to restore their dignity."

Finally, recalling that this year we are celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the rights of children and adolescents, Francesco invited " we are all invited to reflect on the need to protect the welfare of our children, their social and intellectual development, their access to schooling, and their physical, psychological and spiritual growth".

Dialogue and welcome also characterized the subsequent meeting of Francis with the Supreme Patriarch of the Buddhists, Somdet Phra Ariyavongsagatanana IX, in the Wat Ratchabophit Sathit Maha Simaram Temple, where he arrived at 10 local time (3 GMT).

After a brief private interview, during which he reiterated the value of fraternity between the two religions, to promote peace, in his greeting to the Patriarch Francis said that " Our meeting takes place as part of the journey of esteem and mutual recognition initiated by our predecessors. I would like this visit to follow in their footsteps, in order to increase respect but also friendship between our communities. Almost fifty years have passed since the seventeenth Supreme Patriarch, Somdej Phra Wanarat (Pun Punnasiri), together with a group of distinguished Buddhist monks, visited Pope Paul VI in the Vatican. This represented a very significant turning point in the development of the dialogue between our religious traditions, which subsequently enabled Pope John Paul II to visit this Temple and the Supreme Patriarch, His Holiness Somdej Phra Ariyavongsagatanana (Vasana Vasano) ”.

"When we have the opportunity to appreciate and esteem one another in spite of our differences (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 250), we offer a word of hope to the world, which can encourage and support those who increasingly suffer the harmful effects of conflict. Occasions like this remind us how important it is for religions to become more and more beacons of hope, as promoters and guarantors of fraternity. In this regard, I am grateful to the people of this land, because, since the arrival of Christianity in Thailand some four and a half centuries ago, Catholics have enjoyed freedom in religious practice, despite their being in a minority, and for many years have lived in harmony with their Buddhist brothers and sisters".

"On this path of mutual trust and fraternity, I wish to reiterate my personal commitment, and that of the whole Church, to furthering an open and respectful dialogue in the service of the peace and well-being of this people".

For his part, the Patriarch, in unscripted remarks, expressed his appreciation for the attitude of the Catholic Church, which came to help not to conquer. Francis replied that proselytizing "is forbidden" for Catholics. "If we are brothers - he added - we can help world peace", the poor and the suffering, "because helping the poor is always a path of blessing".

Leaving the Wat Ratchabophit Sathit Maha Simaram Temple, at 10.50 local time (3.50 GMT), the Pope went to the St. Louis Hospital in Bangkok.

In his greeting to health care workers and the sick, Francis emphasized the Christian value of charity. "It is precisely in the exercise of charity that we Christians are called not only to demonstrate that we are missionary disciples, but also to take stock of our own fidelity, and that of our institutions, to the demands of that discipleship".

"Each of us knows how illness brings with it questions that dig deep. Our first reaction may be to rebel and even experience moments of bewilderment and desolation. We cry out in pain, and rightly so: Jesus himself shared in that suffering and made it his own. With prayer, we too want to join in his own cry of pain. By uniting ourselves to Jesus in his passion, we discover the power of his closeness to our frailty and our wounds. We are invited to cling to him and to his sacrifice. If at times we feel deeply “the bread of adversity and the water of affliction”, let us also pray that we can find, in an outstretched hand, the help needed to discover the comfort that comes from “the Lord who does not hide himself” (cf. Is 30:20), but remains ever close to us and accompanies us at every moment."


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