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Interreligious prayer at scene of Bangkok tragedy

BANGKOK (Agencies): An interreligious prayer service outside the Erawan Shrine in Bangkok, Thailand, on August 21, was attended by 800 people to honour the memory of the 20 people who died in the explosion at the Hindu holy place on August 17 and to pray for their loved ones and scores of injured.

Each of the victims was mentioned by name, including those from Hong Kong who died in the senseless violence.

The service included a liturgy of the word, during which a message of solidarity from Pope Francis was read out. Copies were distributed to all present, including a government delegation that attended the prayer service.

“The Thai Catholic bishops and the faithful are deeply pained and express their deep solidarity in prayer with the victims in the targeted explosions at the Erawan shrine,” Monsignor Andrew Vissanu Thanya Anan, deputy secretary general for the Thai Bishops’ Conference, told the Catholic News Agency on August 23.

Monsignor Vissanu said, “People were deeply touched by Pope Francis’ message of solidarity, his concern and his closeness, and in return have expressed their heartfelt gratitude.”

The August 19 message sent on behalf of Pope Francis by the Vatican secretary of state, Pietro Cardinal Parolin, says, “His Holiness Pope Francis was deeply saddened to learn of the injury and loss of life caused by the attack at the Erawan Hindu Shrine and of the threat to life and property caused by the bombing at the Sathorn Pier.”

The letter, addressed to the king of Thailand, Bhumibol Adulyadej, expresses the pope’s heartfelt solidarity with the king and all those affected by the violent acts.

“Mindful of the security and emergency personnel who are seeking the perpetrators of these crimes, while also assisting the injured, their families and those of the deceased, His Holiness offers the assurance of his prayers and invokes the divine blessings of peace and healing upon the kingdom,” it continues.

“We know it is hard and we need divine grace for healing,” Monsignor Vissanu reflected. “No malice and revenge can find lasting answers; but only love and prayer can heal and triumph over hate, and bring forgiveness for everlasting peace and development.”

He added, “It is very touching and inspiring to see people of all religions feel the power of prayer and congregate together yearning for peace and to pray, when such horrifying events normally trigger ripples of panic, hate and vengeance.”

The bishops welcomed a call from officials in Bangkok for an interreligious prayer service, acknowledging the important role that prayer plays in binding communities together and promoting peace and harmony throughout country.

Monsignor Vissanu recounted with sadness the death of a young Chinese Catholic, Tee Wushenqi, who was among the 20 people killed.

His funeral Mass was held at the Ruamrudee Holy Redeemer Church in Bangkok and was attended by his family, who travelled from China.


Jithapha Aae, from the local parish, said, “The bombing at Erawan, targeting innocent people offering prayers, is despicable and a heinous act, and we hope that prayers will bring hope and smiles in our land of smiles… we hope that people will be motivated and inspired to work to make a better world.”

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