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For Thai Cardinal, the art of living includes witness to the Gospel

Banner screenshot of cardinal francis xavier kriengsak kovithavanij feb 20 2015 credit andreas dueren cna

Cardinal Francis Xavier Kriengsak Kovithavanij, Feb. 20, 2015. Credit: Andreas Dueren/CNA.

Every Christian has a role to play in evangelization, and the first step is to take the Word of God into their hearts, the Archbishop of Bangkok has said. “We need to give a concrete testimony of faith in living the Word of God, building small Christian communities and then we also have the obligation to announce the Good News,” Cardinal Francis Xavier Kriengsak Kovithavanij told CNA. He explained that Christians must interiorize the Word of God and then put it into practice. Christians must live their witness of Christ in daily life at home, in the family, and at work. This will give credibility to the work of evangelization. Thailand’s Catholic bishops have declared a Holy Year in the country to advance the New Evangelization and to commemorate the 350th anniversary of the first Synod of Ayutthaya, held in 1664. In April the bishops hosted the first Plenary Council of the Catholic Church in Thailand. They deliberated on the theme, “The Disciples of Christ Live the New Evangelization.” Cardinal Kriengsak served as the plenary council’s president. He said the council helped orient pastoral guidelines for the future in order to build the Church in Thailand and to help the community as a whole. He reiterated the need for Christian witness “first to proclaim and then to evangelize.” The cardinal noted that Thailand’s Catholic community is very small; itmakes up less than one percent of the population. The cardinal was in Rome Oct. 11 to take possession of his titular church, Santa Maria Addolorata Church. He spoke there with special focus on youth formation, noting their role as the future of the Church and the future leaders of the society. He said that taking possession of a titular church in Rome, the diocese of the Pope, shows the fidelity and unity of the local Church and the universal Church. Cardinal Kriengsak explained in Rome: “even if I stay far in the East, my heart beats with the Pope, with the community.” He said his cardinal’s ring also unites him with the Pope and the Catholic community. The cardinal’s motto on his coat of arms is the Latin phrase “Verbum Crucis Dei Virtus est,” which means “The language of the Cross is the power of God.” “Right from my seminary days, I adored the crucified Christ who showed his intense love in redeeming humanity,” he said. Cardinal Kriengsak, 66, was born in 1949 near Bangkok. He studied at St. Joseph’s Seminary in his home diocese and finished his philosophical and theological formation at the Pontifical Urbaniana University in Rome. He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Bangkok in 1976. He was installed as bishop of Nakhon Sawan, in west central Thailand, in 2007. Two years later, he was installed as Archbishop of Bangkok. Pope Francis made the archbishop a cardinal in the 2015 conclave. His predecessor in the Bangkok archdiocese, Cardinal Michael Michai Kitbunchu, was Thailand’s first cardinal. Cardinal Kriengsak is also a supporter of the Focolare movement, a multi-religious spiritual and social renewal movement founded in Italy by Chiara Lubich, a Catholic laywoman. Lubich’s cause for beatification opened in January 2015.

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