Phnom Penh (Agenzia Fides) - Catholics grow in faith, committed to formation, as in charity: this is what His Exc. Mgr. Olivier Schmitthaeusler, MEP, apostolic Vicar of Phnom Penh says in a pastoral letter released in view of Christmas and sent to Fides. Christmas is the "Good News" of the Incarnation of God: with this spirit Mgr. Schmitthaeusler shares the 12 pieces of "good news" with his community that occurred in 2011, which are all signs of hope for the faithful Cambodians.
The Vicar begins his list remembering the birth of the Scout Movement in Cambodia, initiated thanks to the work of the Office for the Pastoral Care of children and young people, which involves over 1,000 children. Then there is - the second piece of news- the opening of the "Village of Peace", which hosts nine families affected by the AIDS virus and also has a day care center for severely disabled children. Positive sign - notes the Bishop - then the start of the "School of Faith": a course of more than 500 hours of biblical, theological, spiritual, ethical study, which saw an enthusiastic response on behalf of the laity.
The Vicar also recalls the beginning of a three-year pastoral period on the theme "Being with Jesus", which opened in June 2011 attended by over 1000 delegates from all over the Vicariate, which will mark the life of all the small communities.
Special attention (the fifth point) was reserved to young people: with the participation in World Youth Day in Madrid, and the pilgrimage of 180 young people to remember the Cambodian martyrs: Bishop Tep, the first Apostolic Prefect of Battambang, and Father Jean Badre, who was brutally murdered in 1975, at the time of the Khmer rossi.
The letter cites, in the sixth place, the annual meeting of the Bishops of Cambodia and Laos (CELAC), which took place in a warm and fraternal atmosphere, which was chosen by the Vicar of Phnom Penh as a representative for the next Synod of Bishops to be held in Rome in October 2012.
The seventh good news is the profession of the temporary vows for two Sisters of Providence, in addition to the creation of the "Council of Superiors of men and women religious of Cambodia", representing 38 religious congregations present in the local Church.
Such an "Alliance for Charity" (the ninth point) was set up by twenty Catholic NGOs and Catholic groups that assist the poor, the disabled, the sick, to "respond more effectively to the mission of love entrusted to Catholics" . The apostolic Vicar recalls, finally, the last three pieces of "good news": the "night of prayer for vocations to priesthood and religious life", which involved the whole community; the start of the diocesan process of beatification for 19 Cambodian martyrs, such as Mgr. Salas Chmar, first Bishop of Cambodia, and his companions; the 10th anniversary of the ordination of 4 Cambodian priests. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 22/12/2011)