Wednesday, February 11, 2009

New bishop in Chiang Mai

Even though I will continue to focus on the civil administration, an occasional posting on the ecclesiastic subdivisions (i.e. the Roman Catholic dioceses) and their news won't hurt.

On February 10th the Pope has accepted the resignation of Bishop Joseph Sangval Surasarang (ประวัติพระสังฆราชยอแซฟ สังวาลย์ ศุระศรางค์), bishop of the diocese of Chiang Mai. The photo shows the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Chiang Mai, the principal church of the diocese. Francis Xavier Vira Arpondratana (ฟรังซิส เซเวียร์ วีระ อาภรณ์รัตน์) was assigned as the new bishop. The short announcement in the Vatican news read as follows

Appointed Fr. Francis Xavier Vira Arpondratana of the clergy of Bangkok, Thailand, director of the diocesan catechesis centre and secretary of the episcopal commission for catechesis, as bishop of Chiang Mai (area 89,683, population 5,749,882, Catholics 48,927, priests 74, religious 140), Thailand. The bishop-elect was born in Sam Saem, Thailand in 1955 and ordained a priest in 1981. He succeeds Bishop Joseph Sangval Surasarang, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.
At the Archdiocese of Bangkok I could also find that news in Thai. A longer English announcement should be forthcoming on, the press agency of the Vatican.

Normally bishops can retire once they reach the age of 75, but as Bishop Joseph Sangval Surasarang is just 73 he got an early retirement probably due to poor health - the normal retirement is canon 401§1 while the earlier retirement is covered in 401§2. In fact, there are three bishops in Thailand who already passed the retirement age, including Cardinal Kitbunchu, so there may be further new bishops in the near future. All other dioceses already received a new bishops since 2004, so a full generation change is currently underway.

Update: The full announcement from Fides can be found here, which however strangely claims the retirement was according to 401§1.

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