11/03/2016, 14.48
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Thai Lutheran bishop: the pope in Sweden makes us rediscover mercy

by Weena Kowitwanij

For Rev Banjob Kusawadee, first bishop in Thailand’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, “disputes are not about people but about their sins”. We all need God's forgiveness. Since 2003, Thai Lutherans and Catholics have good relations and organise a ‘unity camp’ every year.

Bangkok (AsiaNews) – Reading the words the pope pronounced during his trip to Sweden, "I was struck deeply. His Holiness has clearly explained that disputes are not about people but about the sins and mistakes they make. Everyone sins so we need to announce the Good News to the world that Jesus Christ sacrificed himself for us,” said Rev Banjob Kusawadee, the first bishop of Evangelical Lutheran Church in Thailand (ELCT), who spoke to AsiaNews about his impressions of Pope Francis’ visit to Lund and Malmö for the commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

Beyond the differences between Catholics and Protestants, the pope highlighted that "sinners cannot save themselves and need God’s mercy. No matter what happens, we all have to be centred on Christ, the source of virtue," the bishop said.

Speaking about the good relations that have been existed for some years between Catholics and Lutherans in Thailand, the Protestant leader noted that "Since 2003 we have ties of friendship. Each year the Lux Mundi Saengtham major seminary and Lutherans believers organise a ‘unity camp', focused on the doctrine of the faith. The next will be held in January 2017. In addition, we are looking to increasing our contacts with other Christian denominations like the Presbyterians and Protestants, etc."

Rev Banjob Kusawadee has been bishop since 1994, when the ELCT’s constitution was approved. The Lutheran Church in Thailand is part of the Lutheran World Federation and has 4,148 members in Bangkok. It is also present in 25 provinces across the country.

Thailand’s Catholics number around 300,000 out of a total of about 70 million people, or 0.5%. Protestants account for about 0.6% of the population.

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