Card. Filoni’s call for a "missionary" Church embraced by Thai Catholics

The cardinal went to Thailand to mark the 350th anniversary of the apostolic vicariate of Siam. The prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples indicated the need for "a new missionary zeal". PIME Missionary: "In Chiang Rai we will start from the people".

Bangkok (AsiaNews) - Thai Catholics have welcomed Card. Fernando Filoni’s call for a Church that is "missionary, free from self-celebration,” says Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) priest Fr. Marco Ribolini.

The priest, who is pastor of Mae Suay mission located in the young diocese of Chiang Rai was commenting on the prelates words delivered during celebrations for the 350th anniversary of the apostolic vicariate of Siam.

The prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples visited Thailand for a six-day pastoral visit (May 16-21), which began at the Cathedral of the Assumption in Bangkok, where he met with the Thai Bishops Conference (Cbct), indicating to them the need for "a new missionary zeal" for the local Church.

On the morning of May 18, during a solemn Eucharistic celebration in Sam Phran (30km west of Bangkok), the prelate met with the Catholics of the capital, along with those of the South and the center of the country. The following day he went to Chiang Mai (photo), in the North, where in the evening he celebrated a mass with the young Catholic community of the place.

"The Cardinal's journey - continues Fr. Ribolini - was accompanied by the joy of all Thai Catholics, also because it happened for celebrations that reaffirm the historic presence of the Church in the country. The messages that the cardinal gave to the local Church are very positive; in particular, the discourse on the theme of evangelization given at Sam Phran ". Here, Card. Filoni highlighted the difficulties that await the commitment to evangelization on the Asian continent.

During the meeting with religious, seminarians and catechists, the bishop declared: "We must reflect on the fact that our mission as baptized in Asia is a real mission; above all, in relation to the multiplicity of cultures and religious expressions, in addition to the secular realities of families and workplaces. In this context, witnessing to our faith leads us to confront the multitude of unbaptized people, their mentality and their lifestyle, which can sometimes be in contrast with the Gospel and the dignity of the person. The Christian life, therefore, is a sign and a challenge for the search for the true meaning of existence ".

"The cardinal - affirms the missionary - reaffirmed the need for evangelization that is not just a facade, but able to propose Jesus Christ with courage even outside of the realms of Catholic schools and institutions. That of the prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples was a call to a missionary Church, free from self-celebration".

That of the North of Thailand is still a 'catechumenal' Church, of first evangelization and animated by conversions. "Here in Chiang Rai - he concludes - the Catholic environment is represented by tribal groups that have decided to become Christians en masse. With the bishop, Msgr. Joseph Vuthilert Haelom, we are ready to face the challenge put to us by Card. Filoni starting from the history of the single villages. They have become the ground for the evangelizing work of missionaries such as Fr. Giovanni Zimbaldi in the last 50 years. For this reason, activities and initiatives are planned that start again from those who brought the Gospel to each of the communities."