Cardinal Priest of S Lorenzo in Panisperna
Cardinal Michael Mitchai Kitbunchu, Archbishop of Bangkok (Thailand), was born on 25 January 1929 in Samphran, in the then Apostolic Vicariate of Bangkok, which has now become an archdiocese. He studied at the minor seminary of Siracha, in Thailand, and then in Rome at the Pontifical Urban College of "Propaganda Fide", earning a licentiate in philosophy and sacred theology. He was ordained a priest on 20 December 1959 by Cardinal Agagianian, then prefect of the dicastery Propaganda Fide.
When he returned to his country he served as assistant pastor and then pastor at Bangham, and a few years after, he was given the important parish of Calvary in the capital city. As archdiocesan consultor, he became rector of the metropolitan seminary of Bangkok in 1965 until December 1972 when Paul VI appointed him Archbishop of Bangkok succeeding Archbishop Joseph Kiamsun Nittayo. He was ordained on 3 June 1973.
A master of several languages, besides Thai and Latin he speaks English, Italian, French and Chinese. He is a tireless pastor and administrator, having established major new institutions in the local Church, as well as inspiring vocations in the Archdiocese of Bangkok evidenced by the increase in the number of seminarians in the major and minor seminaries as well as in religious life.
Created and proclaimed Cardinal by John Paul II in the consistory of 2 February 1983. Titular church, St. Laurence in Panisperna.
Cardinal Kitbunchu was the first member of the Sacred College of Cardinals from Thailand, formerly the ancient kingdom of Siam. The first evangelization took place there three centuries ago, and the number of Catholics still remains small and strictly of Thai origin, but the position of the Catholic Church in the country is quite high and the relations with the majority of Buddhists excellent.
President of the Bishops' Conference of Thailand, since May 2000