Catholic World News

New cardinal profile: Archbishop Francis Xavier Kriengsak Kovitvanitij

February 04, 2015

Ninth on the list of new cardinals announced by Pope Francis on January 4 is Archbishop Francis Xavier Kriengsak Kovitvanitij, 65, of Bangkok. His predecessor was also a cardinal.

Born in 1947 in Ban Rak, a district of Bangkok, the future prelate entered the seminary in Thailand and undertook further studies at the Pontifical Urbaniana University. He was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Bangkok in 1976. After three years as a parochial vicar, he was named vice rector of a minor seminary, before being sent to the Pontifical Gregorian University for two years to study spirituality.

Returning to Thailand, he became rector of an intermediate seminary, undersecretary of the episcopal conference (1989-93), and rector of the nation’s major seminary (1992-2000). After serving as a parish priest for three years, he became rector of the cathedral (2003-07).

In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI named him bishop of Nakhon Sawan, a city of 115,000 in central Thailand. Two years late, the Pontiff named him archbishop of Bangkok.

In 2007, he explained that he chose the motto “the word of the cross is the power of God” to help him “fully accept all difficulties and transforms them into love.” He is involved with the Focolare movement.

At the 2012 Synod of Bishops on the new evangelization, he spoke about small Christian communities and said that interreligious dialogue as a means of evangelization:

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Thailand is of the opinion that it is necessary that all the bishops, priests, men and women religious and the laity be concretely revived in faith and Christian life aiming at “discipleship and sharing the Good News” with regards to the teaching of the Church, liturgy, life of prayers and continuous formation, using the means of “BEC” (Basic Ecclesial Communities) through coordination of the various Catholic entities and the CBCT commissions especially the Episcopal Commission for Pastoral Care of the Christians. The parochial community will enable the BEC to be the sign of active life of a parish which will be a new community, “communion of communities,” based on the culture of love and will become a good approach for the pastoral care and evangelization “Ad gentes.”

The Catholic Church in Thailand is amid our brothers and sisters of other faiths. The Church is essentially the sign and instrument of announcing the Kingdom of God and all the disciples of Christ are called to announce and share the Good News to both those who have not yet heard and those who are not yet in the same sheepfold. The appropriate way to bring about mutual understanding in society is through the “Interreligious Dialogue” which is the way suitable for our new evangelization.

In the context of multiple cultures in Asia the dialogue with respect will widen the venue of mutual listening to the religious experiences and mutual collaboration. The Catholic faithful through the Basic Ecclesial Community, therefore, filled with faith, love and hope will be able to enter into the dialogue not only, with our Christian brothers and sisters of various denominations, but also with the Buddhists, the majority of the population in Thailand, to cooperate and together create true unity and peace in Thai society. And with the Risen Lord in the midst of “two or three, united in His name,” we Catholic faithful in Thailand, can share God's love to everyone.


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