Thailand: seminarians asked to show greater respect for nuns

Ban Phu Wan

Ban Phu Wan

Final-year seminarians  in Thailand have been told they must show greater respect for nuns and women co-workers after a report revealed simmering tensions between the two groups, UCAN reports.  Priests are accused of being high-handed and disrespectful in some cases and of inappropriate behavior in others, according to Sister Kanlaya Trisopha, former chaplain of the Catholic Commission for Women.

Sister Kanlaya was speaking on the issue at a seminar and workshop for about 20 final-year seminarians and nuns about to take their final vows. The event, held in Ban Phu Wan pastoral training centre in Sam Phran, west of Bangkok, aimed at helping participants avoid such tensions in the future.

Referring to a report on the matter during the October 12-15 meeting, Sister Kanlaya highlighted a case "where a priest, who had a problem with a nun, brought up the issue in his homily and wrote about it in the weekly newsletter."

"Even though the priest didn't name the nun, the nun knew he was referring to her and she didn't have the chance to respond."

She said another source of tension came from the way instructions were sometimes given. Her report reveals that some priests do not discuss instructions with nuns and other women co-workers, simply handing them written orders.

"From a woman's perspective, this shows disrespect, while men don't see it as an issue," Sister Kanlaya said.

Father Chaiyo Kitsakul, rector of Saeng Tham College, the national major seminary in Sam Phran, told participants: "There have been problems between priests and nuns because men and women see things from different perspectives."

Priests often use their status, consciously or unconsciously, to dominate others, he said. He called on the seminarians to "listen to others, especially women and nuns."

Father Miguel Garaizabal, a resource person for the workshop, told UCA News problems arise when priests feel that it is the duty of nuns to serve them.

"This training is aimed at both men and women to respect and fully support each other and build a model of friendship and collaboration," said the Spanish Jesuit priest.

Sornchai Dhipo, a seminarian from Chiang Mai diocese, said he would now be more sensitive toward women co-workers. He recalled an incident in which a new priest, upon arriving at a parish, asked a nun to vacate her office for him. This act soured the relationship between the two.

The recent workshop is the eighth in a series of annual dialogue sessions between final-year seminarians and nuns. In future, "we plan to invite lay women Church workers to attend as well," said Father Chaiyo.

Source: UCAN

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