07/03/2008, 00.00
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“Witnesses to the faith to follow the example of the Apostle Paul,” Card Kitbunchu says

by Weena Kowitwanij
During the opening celebrations for the Pauline Year, the archbishop of Bangkok emphasises Saint Paul’s missionary role, reminding people of Pope Benedict XVI’s call for the unity of the faithful. Every Christian is called to proclaim the “Word of God.”

Bangkok (AsiaNews) – In response to Pope Benedict XVI’s call for “Christian unity”, the Thai Church has given the go-ahead to the celebrations of the Pauline Year. A solemn Eucharistic celebration was held on 29 June in Bangkok’s Assumption Cathedral, Archbishop of Bangkok Card Michael Michai Kitbunchu presiding. Mgr Salvatore Pennacchio, apostolic nuncio to Thailand, and nine local bishops took part in the ceremony.

“The Thai Church joins in spirit and unity with the Universal Church on the occasion of the opening the year of St. Paul,” said Cardinal Kitbunchu. “As the Pope said if we follow the example of the Apostle and meditate on his writings we can give renewed vigour to the proclamation of faith. Paul represents a key spiritual figure and thanks to his work of evangelisation the Word of God spread among the first Christian communities.”

The cardinal also read a statement by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Thailand that reiterates the connection between Pauline Year celebrations and the Lumen Gentium adopted by the Second Vatican Council.

The bishops said that it was incumbent on each faithful to take on the missionary task for they are called to “bear witness to the Good News. Further, they invited Thailand’s Catholics “to create always tighter ties within the community of faithful.”

Mgr Salvatore Pennacchio, nuncio to Thailand, also said that Pope Benedict XVI’s pontificate is a constant call for moral principles that must guide Christians’ lives, by emphasising the value of “human dignity” and promoting world peace.

On the occasion of the Pauline Year the bishops are urging the faithful to meditate on God’s Word, organising collective readings open to other Christian denominations.

The agenda also includes initiatives designed to spread the faith in Thai society in addition to pilgrimages to churches dedicated to St Paul in Thailand and to places connected to the Apostle in the Holy Land, Syria, Turkey, Greece and Rome.

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