Thailand is in mourning, following the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej last Thursday.
"People are speechless for a moment and then burst into tears" one missionary said. "Young and old, men and women, in cities and suburbs. It was, and still is a manifestation of sincere affection towards the monarch. Preparations were underway for his birthday on December 5, Father's national holiday, but his health conditions worsened a few days ago. It is not a King who dies, it is 'the King' who dies. For most Thais this is probably the only King they knew. He reigned for 70 years with great wisdom and care towards the people. The monarchy, which still is a guarantor establishment of peace and national unity, is identified with Bhumibol Adulyadej, King number nine of the Chacri dynasty that founded Bangkok at the end of the eighteenth century."
"The population is now lost. The institutions have given themselves a time of reflection. The people will mourn for a year and then the cremation rites will take place."
"The Catholic Bishops' Conference issued a statement, read in all the churches on Sunday, October 16. They invite Christians to pray for a full year for the soul of the late King and for his successor. Each parish will make the bells ring out for nine days in a row and will exhibit pictures at temples and Catholic schools. Moreover, adds the missionary,
"Other religions and civil institutions are doing the same thing. Cinemas and theatres have suspended programs, television channels will broadcast in black and white for a month. This King is seen by the people as a model of good and mercy. He is always represented with agricultural populations, on the mountains, in the villages. His picture was already present before in all the houses and classrooms. Blow-ups stand out at the entrances of villages and towns.
"Certainly he played a sensitive role in guiding the nation through the ashes of World War II and the turmoil of the Southeast Asian area tied to communism. He accompanied the process of modernization of the State without upsetting the customs and traditions. Explicitly he favoured the coexistence of religions in a nation almost entirely Buddhist. He curbed some resurgence of civil strife in times of crisis. Now Thailand, after the break of sadness, will have a series of problems to deal with."