By UCA News
The Catholic Church in Thailand and the rest of Thai society are mourning the passing away of their revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
The royal palace in a statement announced that King Bhumibol passed away peacefully at 3:52 p.m. on Oct. 13 at Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok. He was 88.
King Bhumibol, who had been Thailand’s king since 1946, is revered as the father of the nation. He is remembered for his service to the nation’s people, particularly in impoverished remote areas.
In a condolence message posted on the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Thailand website Cardinal Francis Xavier Kriengsak Kovithavanij of Bangkok acknowledged King Bhumibol as the country’s greatest monarch as well as for his contribution to society and people’s welfare.
The bishop’s conference also asked all Catholics in Thailand to remember the king’s good works, reflect on his great mercy and pray to God for his majesty.
King Bhumibol visited St. Pope John XXIII at the Vatican in 1960 where the king invited the pontiff to visit Thailand. The visit of St. Pope John Paul II in 1984 was in large part a fulfillment of that invitation.
In 2014 when the Catholic Church in Thailand welcomed the relics of the church’s then newest saints Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII, they were presented to King Bhumibol by members of the Thai bishops’ conference at Klai Kangwon Palace in Hua Hin, where the bishops also offered prayers for the world’s longest reigning monarch’s health.
As king, he upheld Buddhism, the religion of more than 90 percent of the people, but was also the protector of all religions in the kingdom.
The king contributed to the people’s general welfare through personal initiatives and foundations under his patronage.
King Bhumibol’s philosophy of a self-sufficient economy earned him a Lifetime Achievement Award from the United Nations Development Program in 2006. He has initiated more than 3,000 projects including flood control, housing, irrigation and rainmaking programs.