11/29/2004, 00.00
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Church wants dialogue, won't tolerate violence, new bishop says

by Weena Kowitwanij

Mgr Joseph Prathan Sridarunsil presents his programme. He is the new Bishop of Surat Than, a region torn by violence between Muslims and Buddhists.

Bangkok (AsiaNews) – The Church wants to prove that Jesus means love, that dialogue is the best path towards solving problems, that violence, whether between people, families and in society, cannot be tolerated.

These are the ideas expressed by Fr Prathan Sridarunsil, a Salesian priest who was ordained Bishop of Surat Thani, in southern Thailand, on November 28 by Card Crescenzio Sepe, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples. The new Bishop succeeds Bishop Praphon Chaicharoen, who passed away on May 18, 2003, of a heart attack.

Card Michai Kitbunchu, President of Catholic Bishops' Conference of Thailand, and His Grace Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio, Apostolic Nuncio, as well as 10 other bishops, 180 priests and approximately 6,000 Catholics attended the event.  

Speaking about his pastoral role as the Catholic Bishop for 15 provinces, three of which (Surat Thani, Narathiwat and Pattani) are torn by serious inter-ethnic and religious violence, Bishop Sridarunsil said he was confident that dialogue and opposition to all forms of violence can be effective. Going further, he said: "Since Thais in the South belong to different religious communities, I want inter-religious dialogue through meetings, friendship and cooperation help us solve social problems together."

"As Catholics we will help one another in time of sadness and difficulty regardless of race and religion in order to witness and spread the Good News of Jesus Christ."

Bishop Joseph Prathan Sridarunsil was born on February 9, 1946. He was ordained priest by Pope Paul VI on June 29, 1975, in Rome. He studied philosophy in Hong Kong and theology in Cremisan in Israel. He completed his studies in Spirituality at the Salesian University in Rome in 1982-1984. His last appointment was as the Salesian Father Provincial in Thailand. His motto as Bishop is Fiat Voluntas Tua (Thy Will Be Done).

There are two archdioceses and eight dioceses in Thailand. In Surat Thain Diocese, there are 43 priests (including 7 diocesan priests), 6 brothers and 99 sisters for 6,682 Catholics in a population of 8,904,385 inhabitants (mostly Muslims) in area that covers 76,562 km2.


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