Bangkok November 20/2019
The Alitalia special flight arrived punctually at 12.02 at Don Moeng airport, a few kilometers from the center of Bangkok, and, while the Pope appeared at the door of the plane, the faithful of the small Thai Christian community waved the national flag and that of the Holy See to highlight their specificity, but at the same time their loyalty to the Church. Pope Francis walked down the stairs of the plane with an uncertain step, but visibly pleased with the reception he received. The first to shake hands with the Pontiff was the King’s Chief Advisor while the bishops of the twelve Thai dioceses were waiting for their turn excited. Pope Francis relieved all tension with his informal and friendly manner until the point Bishop Joseph Pibul Visitnondachai felt free to embrace the Pontiff with unusual familiarity.
Pope Francis did not follow the protocol as usual and, when he was about to get into the car that would have taken him to the Nunciature, he had a moment of hesitation and, not wanting to disappoint the people who get to the airport to greet him, he headed towards the faithful to greet them almost personally. In Thailand the Pope is addressed as a king and with him the royal language is used, but, even in Siam, Pope Bergoglio is known for his simplicity and he is appreciated because of his love for the poor. The Nuncio, an almost shy person, but attentive to the protocol, told us that he cannot get used to the simplicity of the Pope and when he arrives in Rome, and, in the refectory of Santa Marta where he is accommodated, he sees the Pope sitting alone, for dinner, he does not dare take to sit next to him. This simple man who occupies the highest place in the Church is an extraordinary witness of the Gospel values and his way of life challenges our common sense, it confuses us perhaps, as Christ challenges and confuses his disciples.
Tomorrow we will all be at the stadium for mass and it will be an important and unique moment for every believer here in Thailand.