Phnom Penh (Fides News Agency) - A heartfelt, sincere and deeply sympathetic prayer for the Holy Land goes up to God from tiny Cambodia, a country in Southeast Asia where about 20,000 Catholics live, 0.13 percent of the country's approximately 16 million inhabitants. The faithful divided into three ecclesiastical circumscriptions (the Apostolic Vicariate of Phnom Pen and the Apostolic Prefectures of Battambang and Kompong Cham) express in these hours their deep communion with the suffering people and with the victims of the atrocious conflict in the Middle East," recounts Bishop Olivier Schmitthaeusler MEP, Apostolic Vicar of Phnom Penh.
The entire Cambodian community will join tomorrow, Oct. 17, in the special Day of Fasting and Prayer announced by Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Patriarch of Jerusalem of the Latins, on behalf of all the Ordinary Bishops of the Holy Land, who have asked Christians to come together "in choral prayer, to deliver to God the Father our thirst for peace, justice and reconciliation." In yesterday's Angelus, Oct. 15, Pope Francis reiterated, "Prayer is the gentle and holy force to oppose the diabolical force of hatred, terrorism and war. I invite all believers to join the Church in the Holy Land and to dedicate next Tuesday, Oct. 17, to prayer and fasting."
"Dear brothers and sisters," the Apostolic Vicar of Phnom Penh wrote in a letter circulated to all the faithful, "the Holy Land, a sacred place for millions of people around the world, is currently pouring into violence and suffering. As the Catholic Church in Cambodia, we, bishops, priests, nuns, religious and the Catholic faithful all in the Kingdom of Cambodia, stand in deep solidarity with the people of that region who are enduring the devastating consequences of continuing conflicts. Our faith, founded on the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, obligates us and support the cessation of all violence and military activity that harms both Palestinian and Israeli civilians."
Cambodian Catholics will call on God for "political leaders and authorities to engage in sincere dialogue, seeking lasting solutions that promote justice, peace and reconciliation for the people of Israel and Palestine," repeating, "Merciful and strong Father, You are not a God of disorder, but of peace. Extinguish in the Holy Land hatred, violence and war, that love, concord and peace may flourish again."
The entire Church in Cambodia, agreeing with Pope Francis and taking to heart the tragic situation in the Holy Land, "expresses deep compassion and closeness for the families affected by this terrible conflict," writes The Bishop on behalf of the entire Catholic community in Cambodia.
In the nation, this is the time of "Pchum Ben," a season in which the souls of the departed are commemorated and celebrations and visits to cemeteries are held. In particular, Cambodian people commemorate the 11 years since the death of King Norodom Sihanouk (who passed away on Oct. 15, 2012), the father of Cambodia's national independence.
Precisely at this special time, notes the Vicar Apostolic, "we invite our communities, parishes, and associations to pray for the souls of those who have already lost their lives in this conflict, and also for the Cambodian-Israeli citizens who lost their lives in the October 7 attacks," uniting this remembrance with the memory of loved ones and the memory of the King, "so that all may enjoy peace and eternal happiness." "The peace we will experience in Heaven, in the beatific vision of God, we are called to build and live it already here and now, on earth, in the footsteps of Christ, Prince and Giver of Peace," the bishop concluded.
(PA) (Fides News Agency 16/10/2023)