Uniting with other major faith groups at an interreligious ‘March for Peace,’ Thai Catholics on Thursday offered prayers for the victims of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris. “The world is tired of hatred and hungers for peace,” Monsignor Vissanu Thanya-Anan told CNA. “This peace march, a symbol of solidarity with prayers for the victims, is also a chance to show that all religions can live and work harmoniously together and work for the good of the society and country as good citizens,” he said. Msgr. Vissanu serves as deputy secretary-general for the Thai bishops' conference. He formerly worked as undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. On Nov. 19, he joined Bishop Joseph Chusak Sirisut of Nakhon Ratchasima in leading the Catholic delegation priests, religious and a group of school children at the peace march in front of the French embassy. The march was held to offer prayer and solidarity following the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks throughout the city of Paris, France. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attacks, which left 129 dead and more than 300 injured. Thailand’s five major religious groups were all represented at the event. Members of the Buddhist, Muslim, Christian, Hindu and Sikh communities each offered prayers from their own faith tradition and signed a book of condolences. Bishop Chusak, who is the head of the Thai Catholic bishops’ office for interreligious dialogue, led the Catholic portion of the prayer service. Muslim leaders at the march voiced their pain and anguish at the news of terrorist attacks and rejected the idea that their religion condones violence. The religious leaders also presented French ambassador Gilles Garachon with a joint statement that read, “We join in prayer for the dead, the injured, and the families affected by this tragedy. May the Merciful Almighty grant the victims eternal rest and offer consolation and hope to the injured and their families.” “Our march for peace today is a symbol of the unity of the five major religious traditions in Thailand. Together we implore the Almighty above to inspire and strengthen us for the building of peace.” “Violence resolves nothing, and we vigorously condemn every act of violence perpetrated in the name of religion,” they continued. “We invite all to join hands with us to build a sustainable peace through justice, solidarity, and non-discrimination with regard to nationality, religion, caste and color.” Msgr. Vissanu stressed that the Catholic Church is very close to the victims of suffering, persecution and calamity. Pointing to the Holy Father’s continued appeals for peace, he said, “We are inspired and take heed of the teachings of Pope Francis…to seek paths for resolving conflicts and to work for building peace and dialogue.” He also emphasized that his a joint responsibility, saying, “We need the cooperation and goodwill of every responsible citizen to uphold the fundamental rights and dignity of every human person.” The monsignor recalled the Bangkok bombing in August that killed 20 people and injured 125. “The world stood united in solidarity and prayer with Thailand,” he reflected, “and now it is also our reciprocal duty to pray for others…during this difficult moment of grief.”
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