Phnom Penh (Agenzia Fides) - "Benedict XVI was a passionate seeker of God who worked to create harmony of religions and to build a more just world, in truth and with passion. We give thanks for the fruitful life of our beloved Holy Father. He ascended to heaven on December 31, the eve of the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, who was a model for his life as priest, theologian, Bishop and Pastor of the universal Church.
Now we entrust his soul to Our Lady of the Mekong and raise a prayer of thanksgiving for Benedict XVI, a Pope who had God only as a solid rock, an intellectual who believed in reason, a man in love with the truth", said the Vicar Apostolic of Phnom Penh, Bishop Olivier Schmitthaeusler MEP, to the faithful, in a holy requiem mass celebrated in Phom Penh for Benedict XVI. Msgr. Schmitthaeusler recalled that Benedict XVI had first appointed him Coadjutor Bishop in 2009, and then Apostolic Vicar of Phnom Penh on October 1, 2010. In 2013, a few days before his resignation - continued the Vicar - the Pope sent a video message of encouragement to the Church of Cambodia in which he "invoked Our Lady of the Mekong to encourage us in the faith".
Referring to Catholics in Camodia, Bishop Schmitthaeusler said: "Benedict XVI encourages us to continue our mission" and reminded us "that God is love, that truth enlightens us, that only Jesus saves us and that the power of love overcomes evil with good".
Trying to summarize Benedict XVI's thoughts and actions in a few words, the Bishop said: "Only a return to God can save the world. Only our relationship with God can help us find true happiness here on earth and prepare us to the promise of Eternal Life". And he concluded: "Loving God and serving one's neighbor is the path of inner happiness towards which the holy father Benedict guided us. His words pronounced in 2007: 'Being close to you makes me happy' are an important lesson for us. Holy Father, pray for us today from heaven, together with all your holy friends".
In Phnom Penh, a pastoral center named after Benedict XVI has existed and has been operating since 2009. The Center hosts diocesan activities related to youth ministry, charitable works, catechesis on the sacraments and the liturgy. Before his appointment as vicar, Bishop Olivier Schmitthaeusler was the coordinator of the center. For more than 13 years, the Center has been contributing to the pastoral activities in the Vicariate of Phnom Penh, promoting a fruitful dialogue between faith and culture and interreligious dialogue. (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 5/1/2023)