Phnom Penh (Agenzia Fides) - The memory of the Cambodian martyrs is a legacy and a precious heritage of faith that the faithful Cambodians are called to cherish: "Proud and honored to be disciples of Jesus Christ": So says His Exc. Mgr. Olivier Schmitthaeusler, MEP, Apostolic Vicar of Phnom Penh, inviting the faithful to celebrate the memory of the Cambodian martyrs in a solemn prayer vigil to be held on 5 May in Tangkok.
In a pastoral Letter, sent by the Bishop to Fides, Mgr. Schmitthaeusler, recalling the proclamation of the Resurrection, exhorts the faithful to "be witnesses of this hope that changed the face of the earth", and insists: "We must be proud and honored because we are sons and daughters of God, because God made a covenant with each of us, because God made Jesus come back from the dead, and gave us eternal life "
"Jesus taught us to serve, to occupy the last place and bear our cross," notes the Bishop, focusing on the condition of the Church in Cambodia, remembering the contribution of the martyrs: "The events of the genocide in Pol Pot showed how the seeds of faith sown by our ancestors were alive. The Church was decimated: the blood of our bishops, our priests, our brothers and sisters, hundreds of baptized persons was shed to fertilize our fields of rice. The Church lives thanks to those who gave their lives for love."
For this reason, notes Mgr. Schmitthaeusler, the faithful can be "proud and honored" to be members of the Church in Cambodia, "because the blood of our martyrs enlivens our communities." The Vicar invites the faithful to participate actively in the celebrations and activities of the parishes, giving "testimony of love and mercy of God for all men."
About two million Cambodians were killed between 1975 and 1979, under the reign of terror imposed by the Khmer Rouge of Pol Pot. Many Christian communities living in thriving villages, organized with churches, schools and dispensaries, were displaced and decimated. Among the Cambodian martyrs there is the Bishop Paul Tep Im Sotha, the first apostolic Prefect of Battambang, and Father Jean Badre, brutally murdered in 1975. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 27/4/2012)