10/17/2016, 09.55
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Masses throughout the country for the death of King Bhumibol

by Weena Kowitwanij

In the Cathedral of Bangkok, the president of the Bishops' Conference reads Pope Francis’ message. Bells will sound in mourning for the next nine days. The coronation of a successor postponed by one year.


Bangkok (AsiaNews) - The Thai Catholic Church is participating in the days of mourning for the death of King Bhumibol praying for the soul of the monarch. A few hours after the news that the king had died on 13 October, the Bishops' Conference of Thailand (CBCT) issued a message in which it expressed "deepest condolences to all the Thai people for the loss".

Yesterday CBCT president Msgr. Kriengsak kovitvanit  presided at a Mass in the Cathedral of Bangkok at 8.30am. Over a thousand faithful gathered to pray for the deceased king, expressing gratitude for his 70 years of reign.

At the end of the ceremony, the bishop read out the message of condolence sent by Pope Francis to the prime minister Prayut Chan-o-cha: "I was deeply saddened to learn of the death of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, and I extend my heartfelt condolences to the Members of the Royal Family and to all the people of the Kingdom at this sorrowful time.  I pray that, as a fitting tribute to the late King’s legacy of wisdom, strength and fidelity, all Thais may work together to further the path of peace, and I willingly invoke upon all who mourn his passing the consolation of divine blessings.  ".

In a sign of mourning for the death of the monarch, the Thai Church has invited all believers to wear black and each parish will make the bells ring out for nine days in a row. During the period of transition to the coronation of the next king,  special Masses will be celebrated to ask that the new monarch has the 10 virtues of the good king: charity, morality, sacrifice, integrity, modesty, self-control, moderation, kindness, perseverance and righteousness.

King Bhumibol, the ninth king of the Chakri Dynasty, was the symbol of Thailand, guarantor of the Constitution, the political arbiter and protector of all religions. Catholics remember his protective attitude toward the Church with gratitude. The King has always taken part in religious ceremonies to which he was invited and made personal donations to different faiths.

The monarch came to the throne on June 9, 1946. He met St John XXIII at the Vatican in 1960 and in 1984 had an interview with St. John Paul II in the Royal Palace of Bangkok Dusit.

Yesterday Premier Chan-o-cha announced that the coronation of the prince Maha Vajiralongkorn has been postponed for a year. In a private interview, the general said, the prince asked that "the people are not confused, not subject to the management of the country and for the succession". Everyone is currently saddened, he added, "and we have to wait until this time has passed."

Prem Tinsulanonda, army general and former prime minister (1980-1988) was appointed regent pro tempore until the coronation.

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