Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) - "It is a historic event: with the creation of Loatian Bishop Louis-Marie to Cardinal, the Laotian faithful feel that they have equal dignity with other Asian Churches.
Let us remember that on December 11, 2016, the 17 martyrs of Laos were beatified in Vientiane. The first name of the list is Father Joseph Tien, a young Laotian priest, who became a model and reference point for the faithful of yesterday and today. After him, five other Laotians chose to give up their life for their faith. Their beatification, in the center of the Vientiane capital, was a unique event for the Catholic Church of Laos. And now the appointment to Cardinal of Louis-Marie Ling is a step in the same direction. Now the Catholic communities of Laos are sure to have a place in the Pope's heart and mind. They are no longer "second-degree" Catholics and no one can treat them as "adopted children". Their voice and experience is central to Christianity today": says to Agenzia Fides, Fr. Roland Jaques, missionary of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, Postulator of the Cause of Beatification of 15 of the 17 Laotian martyrs.
Interviewed by Fides, Fr. Jaques expresses hope for the small Church in Laos: "Catholics in Laos still live their faith in disadvantaged circumstances. The blessed martyrs offer them a living example of what it means to be believers in an environment that can sometimes be hostile to their presence. And they are sure that in the person of the new Cardinal, they will have a lawyer, a protector, a consoler".
"Most Catholics in Laos - continues the Postulator - belong to ethnic minorities. In the past, these people were definitely 'second class citizens'. Bishop Ling belongs to the minority of khmou, considered the lowest on the social scale. Being appointed Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church is a great gift for the self-esteem of all minorities. Nobody can despise them now".
Even in relations with civil authorities, the Cardinal's presence will be important, notes Fr. Jaques: "When the government of Laos officially granted permission for the beatification of the Laotian martyrs, it showed the good will of cooperation, indicating it as an opportunity to create solidarity, mutual understanding and mutual aid, and as an opportunity to maintain good relations with Government agencies. Now Cardinal Louis-Marie Ling will have the will and the strength to lead all members of the people of God in Laos in this sometimes difficult path of cooperation. He will also be able to speak about religious freedom and human rights. His ethnic origins and personal history (he was in prison in the past) should not be an obstacle any more. I am confident that the government will consider him as a valid spokesman for the Catholic Church". (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 30/6/2017)