BANGKOK: Pope Francis has called for greater commitment to protect women and children from every form of exploitation, enslavement, violence and abuse as he begins his first full-day tour of Thailand today.
In his meeting with Thailand’s Prime Minister, General Prayuth Chan o-cha at the Government House today, the pontiff also appealed to the international community to protect the dignity and rights of migrants and refugees.
On their exploitation, he expressed gratitude for the Thai government’s efforts to “extirpate this scourge” and all private individuals and organisations working to “uproot this evil” and to provide ways to restore their (victims) dignity.
“The future of our peoples is linked in large measure to the way we will ensure a dignified future to our children,” he said.
The 82-year-old pope arrived in Bangkok yesterday to kick start his seven-day Asian tour to the kingdom and Japan.
On migration, the pontiff expressed hopes that the international community would act with responsibility and foresight to resolve the issues that have led to tragic exodus.
He said the crisis of migration cannot be ignored and there is a need to promote safe, orderly and regulated migration.
“May every nation devise effective means of protecting the dignity and rights of migrants and refugees, who face dangers, uncertainty and exploitation in their quest for freedom and a decent life for their families. It is not just about migrants; it is also about the face we want to give to our societies,” he said.
Meanwhile, the pope said the meeting with the Supreme Buddhist Patriarch is a sign of the importance and urgency in promoting friendship and inter-religious dialogue.
“I would like personally to assure you of the full commitment of Thailand’s small but vibrant Catholic community to maintain and promote the distinctive characteristics of the Thai people that lead us to be sensitive to the cries of our many brothers and sisters who yearn to be freed from the yoke of poverty, violence and injustice,” he said.
Pope Francis who had a packed schedule on his first day visit to the kingdom, was earlier accorded an official welcoming ceremony at the Government House.
He also met Thailand’s Supreme Patriarch of Buddhism Somdet Phra Maha Muniwong at Wat Ratchabophit Sathit Maha Simaram Temple and visited a Catholic Hospital, St Louis Hospital and met medical personnel and patients.