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BANGKOK, February 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Secularism is “a devil” that presents an appealingly “nice” face to the world, one of Pope Francis’ new cardinals said this week.

In his first interview since being made a cardinal this month, Cardinal Francis Xavier Kriengsak Kovithavanij, the archbishop of Bangkok, told Catholic News Service, “Secularism is the new way the devil presents himself in the modern world.”

But for modern people, he added, “it seems to people that secularism is a nice devil, not a terrible one.”

“There are good things in modern culture,” but “people are too easily following the wave of secularism … and this does not take place just in Asia, and secularism does not affect only Catholics.”

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The new cardinal’s comments closely echo those of the pope emeritus, Benedict XVI, who made the struggle against the growth of “aggressive secularism” a central issue of his pontificate.

Thailand is an overwhelmingly Buddhist country, with Christians being only about 1.2 percent of the population. Out of just under 64 million people, there are about 292,000 Catholics in ten dioceses, or about 0.46 percent of the total population of the country.

Vatican-watchers are examining closely the words of the new cardinals in anticipation of the next meeting of the Synod of Bishops, set for Rome in October 2015, where the highly contested issue of offering Communion to divorced and civilly remarried or cohabiting Catholics is expected to come to a head. 

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