Michael Michai Kitbunchu

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  • Michael Michai Kitbunchu
  • ไมเกิ้ล มีชัย กิจบุญชู
Cardinal, Archbishop Emeritus of Bangkok
Cardinal Kitbunchu
Appointed18 December 1972
Installed3 June 1973
Term ended14 May 2009
PredecessorJoseph Khiamsun Nittayo
SuccessorFrancis Xavier Kriengsak Kovithavanij
Other post(s)Cardinal-Priest of San Lorenzo in Panisperna
Ordination20 December 1959
by Gregorio Pietro Agagianian
Consecration3 June 1973
by Joseph Khiamsun Nittayo
Created cardinal2 February 1983
by Pope John Paul II
Personal details
Born (1929-01-25) 25 January 1929 (age 95)
DenominationRoman Catholic
  • Joseph Yuhong Kitbunchu (deceased)
  • Maria Klueab Kitbunchu (deceased)
MottoThrough the Cross to light (Per crucem ad lucem)
Coat of arms

Michael Michai Kitbunchu (Thai: ไมเกิ้ล มีชัย กิจบุญชู, pronounced [māj.kɤ̂l mīː.t͡ɕʰāj kìt.būn.t͡ɕʰūː, māj.kɤ̂ɫ-, māj.kɤ̂n-]; born 25 January 1929) is a Thai prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Archbishop of Bangkok from 1973 to 2009 and was made a cardinal in 1983. He has been the Protopriest of the College of Cardinals since 14 December 2016. He is the first cardinal from Thailand. He was president of the Thai Episcopal Conference from 1979 to 1982 and from 2000 to 2006.

Early life and ministry[edit]

Kitbunchu was born in Sam Phran, a district of the Nakhon Pathom Province, to a family of Chinese descent and studied at the minor seminary of Si Racha.[1] He then furthered his studies at the Pontifical Urbaniana University in Rome, where he obtained a licentiate in both philosophy and theology.[2] While in Rome, he was ordained to the priesthood by Cardinal Grégoire-Pierre Agagianian on 20 December 1959.

He returned to Thailand and served as assistant pastor and then pastor in Bang Kham, and later became pastor of Calvary Parish in Bangkok.[2] He was also an archdiocesan consultor and served as rector of the metropolitan seminary of Bangkok from 1965 to 1972.

Episcopal career[edit]

On 18 December 1972, Pope Paul VI appointed Kitbunchu the second Archbishop of Bangkok. He received his episcopal consecration on 3 June 1973 from Archbishop Joseph Khiamsun Nittayo, with Bishops Lawrence Thienchai Samanchit and Michel-Auguste–Marie Langer, MEP, serving as co-consecrators. He served as President of the Thai Episcopal Conference from 1979 to 1982, and again from 2000 to 2006.[2]

Pope John Paul II created him Cardinal-Priest of San Lorenzo in Panisperna in the consistory of 2 February 1983; he was the first cardinal from Thailand.[citation needed] Kitbunchu was one of the cardinal electors who participated in the 2005 papal conclave that selected Pope Benedict XVI. He denied funeral Masses to drug traffickers, saying that such people "destroy society" and engage in "acts of indirect murder."[3] He once expressed his opposition to abortion by saying, "Abortion is a great crime, because the one who should protect the child in her womb becomes the one who destroys the child."[4]

During the 2006 political crisis in his Thailand, Kitbunchu called for unity, saying, "All Thai people are patriotic and want the country to progress and develop on all fields, but now the political crisis has disturbed and worried the people." He also asked Thais to "correct what is wrong and forgive each other."[5]

Kitbunchu resigned from his position as Archbishop of Bangkok on 14 May 2009. At the time of his retirement, he was the oldest active head of an archdiocese in the Latin Church. In addition to his native language, Central Thai (official and national) and his ethnic Chinese dialect of Teochew, he can also speak other languages such as Latin, English, Italian, French and Standard Mandarin.[2]


  1. ^ "Bangkok's Chinese-Thai Catholics want Chinese Mass". Spero News. 5 May 2006. Archived from the original on 10 May 2017. Retrieved 3 July 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d "KITBUNCHU Card. Michael Michai". Holy See.
  3. ^ "Cardinal Tells Priests to Deny Funerals to Drug Traffickers". UCA News. 9 May 2003.
  4. ^ "Michai Kitbunchu, first cardinal from Thailand". Asia News. 14 April 2005.
  5. ^ "Five Religious Leaders Call For Unity in Time of Political Chaos". UCA News. 24 March 2006.

External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Joseph Khiamsun Nittayo
Archbishop of Bangkok
18 December 1972 – 14 May 2009
Succeeded by
Preceded by Cardinal Priest of San Lorenzo in Panisperna
2 February 1983 –
Preceded by Cardinal Protopriest
14 December 2016 –