Michael Michai Kitbunchu

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His Eminence
  • Michael Michai Kitbunchu
  • ไมเกิ้ล มีชัย กิจบุญชู
Cardinal, Archbishop Emeritus of Bangkok
See Bangkok
Appointed 18 December 1972
Installed 3 June 1973
Term ended 14 May 2009
Predecessor Joseph Khiamsun Nittayo
Successor Francis Xavier Kriengsak Kovithavanij
Other posts Cardinal-Priest of San Lorenzo in Panisperna
Orders
Ordination 20 December 1959
by Gregorio Pietro Agagianian
Consecration 3 June 1973
by Joseph Khiamsun Nittayo
Created Cardinal 2 February 1983
by Pope John Paul II
Rank Cardinal-Priest
Personal details
Born (1929-01-25) 25 January 1929 (age 88)
Samphran, Nakhon Pathom Province, Thailand
Denomination Roman Catholic
Parents
  • Joseph-Yuhong Kitbunchu
  • Maria-Klueab Kitbunchu
Motto per crucem ad lucem
Coat of arms {{{coat_of_arms_alt}}}

Michael Michai Kitbunchu (Thai: ไมเกิ้ล มีชัย กิจบุญชู; 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 elevated to the cardinalate in 1983. He has been the Protopriest of the College of Cardinals since 14 December 2016.

Early life and ministry[edit]

Michael Kitbunchu was born in Samphran, a district of the Nakhon Pathom Province, to a family of Chinese descent and studied at the minor seminary of Siracha.[1] He then furthered his studies at the Pontifical Urbanian Athenaeum De Propaganda Fide in Rome, from 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 Bangham, 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. 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 Rite.

In addition to his native Thai, he can also speak Latin, English, Italian, French, and Chinese.[2]

References[edit]

Preceded by
Joseph Khiamsun Nittayo
Archbishop of Bangkok
1972–2009
Succeeded by
Kriengsak Kovitvanit
Preceded by
Paulo Evaristo Arns
Cardinal Protopriest
14 December 2016–
Incumbent