Compassion, humility and modesty wins over the Thai people
Bangkok, Thailand, 26 November 2019 -- “Pope’s compassion, humility, modesty wins over many Thais”, in the words of the Bangkok Post, could well be described as a summary of Pope Francis’ four-day visit to Thailand. Though Thailand is predominantly a Buddhist country with only 0.5% of Catholics, Pope Francis became “a man for one and all, a man very down to earth”
During his visit to Thailand, he met people from all social classes. He had an audience with the King and the Queen. He met the Supreme Patriarch of Thai Buddhists, Leaders of other faiths, Prime Minister and important government officials, ambassadors, medical personnel, young and old, the sick, disabled persons, people from all walks of life. He had time for each and every one of them. I am sure that he won over the hearts of the Thais.
Among the good impressions that I had of Pope Francis, I would like to share one episode at the Assumption Cathedral where the Pope celebrated the mass with the young. After the mass, as he walking down from the staircase, he approached some disabled youths who sat at the front row. Some were in a wheelchair, some were blind, deaf and dumb, some were youth at risk and marginalized. He embraced them and blessed them with a very fatherly gesture, so natural and genuine. Among them, was a twenty-year-old blind young man. The Pope hugged him for quite a time, touching his face and eyes twice and blessed him. Tears ran down from his eyes. Those inside the cathedral and especially those who watched this incident through the television at home, were really touched by this simple, but very touching and fatherly love.
I was one of them who watched the television that night. The TV camera focused on and zoomed in on this encounter between the Pope and the blind youth. The next morning as I talked about this wonderful impression with other confreres, I came to know that that blind youth came from our Salesian center for the blind in Bangkok. Actually, he was our catechumen. When he learnt that he would be the luckiest person chosen to be at the Cathedral, he was so delighted and asked for baptism the night before he attended the mass at the Cathedral.
Another deaf and dumb youth also received the same fatherly attention from the Pope. The Pope embraced her and touched her ears. She also came from Don Bosco Technical Institute that offers a three-year course for printing and technical drawing for deaf and dumb youth. If the Pope knew that the youth he embraced were Don Bosco’s son and daughter, he would be very happy.
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