Bangkok (AsiaNews) Pope John Paul II started his visit to Thailand in 1984 by saying a few words in Thai: "Pho Rak Muang Thai", "I love Thailand".
In his two day visit (May 10 and 11) he met King Bhumiphon Adulayadej who told him of his 1960 meeting with John XXIII in the Vatican.
'Good Pope John' asked him about religious freedom in his country and the monarch answered: "Although Thailand is a Buddhist state, everyone has equal rights".
John Paul II thanked the King for respecting and guaranteeing "this fundamental human right to freely choose one's religion". And "this happens", the Pope stressed, "because of your tradition as well as your laws".
On May 11, in Samphran, 40 km from Bangkok, the Pontiff ordained 23 new Thai priests for the joy of all the Catholics present. Afterwards he visited a refugee camp in a Phanasnikom, Chonburee province.
"Even though I spent little time in Thailand," the Pope said at the end of his visit, "I saw human values deeply rooted in man, expressed in the culture and life of the Thai people". (WK)