Bangkok (Agenzia Fides) - "In this phase, under military power, society and especially young people complain about the lack of freedom and pluralism: one cannot criticize the government. But our pastoral activities are not disturbed or modified": says to Agenzia Fides Fr. Peter Watchasin, National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Thailand, talking about how the Church is preparing to live "World Mission Day" next October 23.
According to some observers, the new Constitution of Thailand, approved last month, threatens to undermine religious harmony in the country because of a provision that imposes the state to promote Theravada Buddhism, the religion of the majority in the nation. The possible application of "blasphemy" causes concern in particular among Christian and Muslim religious minorities.
The new Charter, in fact, provides in Article 67 that "the state shall establish measures and mechanisms to prevent the desecration of Buddhism in any form and encourages the participation of all Buddhists in the application of these measures and mechanisms". Consequently, any action taken as a "threat" or "insult" to Buddhism can be subject to intervention and repression by the state.
To avoid potential problems caused by a rather strict interpretation of this provision, Prime Minister Chan-o-cha Prayut, in an order issued on August 22, confirmed that the state "protects all recognized religions" and supports "all faiths contributing to the development of the nation", without violating the law and the principles of national unity.
The government intends to prevent the emergence of religious conflicts in society. In this situation "the Catholic community - said Fr. Watchasin - does not enter in political issues but continues with its activities: we are preparing missionary October. As Catholics, we are looking for new ways to incarnate the Gospel in the country and live it in society, economy, politics, in order to contribute to the common good of the nation". (PA) (Agenzia Fides 27/09/2016)