“We must not focus too much on the past but on the present, especially on the challenges of the Church”
09 Nov 2021
Thai students await their chance to see Pope Francis during his four-day visit to Thailand in 2019 (Photo LiCAS.News)
BANGKOK: A religious missionary priest urged Catholics in Thailand to focus on the challenges the Church faces as they embark on a synod process initiated by Pope Francis last month.
“We should not focus too much on the past but on the present, especially on the challenges of the Church… Thailand, Laos and Burma.
The priest said that the goal of the local synodal process should be to “renew” the missionary zeal of the faithful for evangelization.
Last month, Pope Francis officially opened the two-year process called “A Synod on Synodality”, officially known as “Synod 2021-2023: For a Synodal Church”. It aims to consult the faithful around the world on issues that concern the communities ahead of the Synod of Bishops in Rome in 2023.
Unlike previous synods, the synodal process offers opportunities for mutual consultation at all levels of the Church and among many different ecclesial and lay organizations.
In Thailand, the Catholic Church, which has held consultations and Councils for the past two decades, the diocesan synod is not new.
The country’s first council that used the synod model was held about 350 years ago in the ancient capital Ayutthaya after the arrival of MEP missionaries from France.
The first missionaries who came to Siam were Portuguese Dominicans who provided pastoral care to Portuguese Christians in Ayutthaya.
In 1662, the Catholic Church established itself more firmly in the kingdom with the arrival of the MEP missionaries led by Bishop Lambert de la Motte.
Bishop De la Motte was responsible for taking charge of South China and the Indochinese countries, but he extended his stay in Siam to deal with religious discrimination and the fallout from conflicts in the region.
Siam thus became the first country to receive the evangelization efforts of the Society of Foreign Missions of Paris, followed by new missions years later in Cochinchina, Tonkin and parts of China.
Two years later, Christian traders began to arrive in greater numbers with more local converts, the first Council with a synod model was held to meet the challenges.
There are approximately 388,468 Catholics in Thailand, with 662 priests overseeing 526 parishes. Catholics represent 0.58% of the country’s 69 million inhabitants.–Licas News