ASIA/THAILAND - Between economic crisis and online prayer: the Covid-19 emergency shakes the nation

Thursday, 7 May 2020 coronavirus   economy   healthcare   prayer   mass media   the internet  

Bangkok (Agenzia Fides) - "The spread of coronavirus offers Thai Christians the opportunity to reflect and strengthen their relationship with God, prompting personal prayer and praying together with members of one’s family. In this time of crisis, a close and profound communion in particular among Christians, expressed vividly through the constant interest in watching news from the Vatican and listening to the teachings and homilies of Pope Francis has grown": says to Agenzia Fides Father Peter Watchasin, National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies, in Thailand, talking about the situation in the nation. "The economic crisis is a very worrying aspect", notes the National Director.
"Due to the widespread of the Coronavirus pandemic and its fatal effects on daily life - says the PMS National Director - there has also been an impact on the liturgical life of the Catholic Church: the Episcopal Conference of Thailand, in response to requests from the national government, informed and instructed all the dioceses of the Country to strictly follow and adhere to all the restrictions, regulations and policies stipulated by the government".
In communities all have adopted preventive and protective measures, such as the limitation of personal travel, forced quarantine for those who are susceptible to infections, social distancing, the cancellation of public gatherings, and therefore the suspension of masses.
"To encourage and maintain active participation in the liturgical life of the Church, we have encouraged the faithful to use modern social media, such as Facebook and Youtube, to participate in Sunday masses and all liturgical celebrations", he says.
As Father Joseph Sirisark, at the head of the Catholic Commission for public communications of the diocese of Ratchaburi points out, "many faithful regularly connect to the live online prayer. In addition to Sunday masses, there is the prayer of the Rosary and the Via crucis, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, carried out with great participation".
Even catechesis and charity do not stop: "Pastoral groups continue to hold meetings through video conferences, catechism lessons are done at home via social media. In addition, various Catholic organizations and committees are committed to providing assistance to the most deprived people, affected in the family economy".
According to experts, the Thai economy will be most affected by the effects of Covid-19 in the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) region.
Everyone in Thailand is affected by a crisis in economic activities: from large business houses to small petty traders and day laborers. "But the most tragic effect is on the thousands of 'tuk tuk' drivers and street vendors in Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Pattaya who are out of work following the closure of the country's tourism sector which plays a leading role in the country. The Covid-19 epidemic will only exacerbate inequality in Thai society", says Fr. Peter to Fides.
Even before the coronavirus epidemic, Thailand was one of the societies with the highest rate of inequality in Southeast Asia, with 1% of the population holding and controlling nearly 67% of the country's wealth. "The Covid-19 epidemic will only deepen the existing income and wealth disparities. Millions of Thais, engaged in informal economy, will be unemployed: they do not have a formal contract or a dependent work, that is what we call vulnerable work. Today this is the greatest risk for our society", concludes Fr. Watchasin. (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 7/5/2020)