A small Christmas celebration in Kompot
Kompot. A group of about 150 persons attended the Christmas celebration at the Kompot Catholic Church last evening. Fr. Son, the parish priest and one of the few Cambodian Catholic priests – most of the clergy is made by foreigners, – underlined the presence of ten persons coming from countries like Colombia, Japan, England, France, Italy, Greece and Vietnam. ‘Even in our small group, the Lord gives us a sign that He was born two thousand years ago for all mankind,’ he said during the homily to the faithful, most of them young people.
Christian Faith is not too new in Cambodia, a kingdom where more than 90 percent profess the Buddhist religion of Theravada. It is traced since 1555 during the arrival of the Dominican Portuguese Fray Gaspar da Cruz, who was a guest at the Royal Court. The wars and conflicts of the nation, who has also a strong Hindu influence in its culture, have kept Christianity as a minority. The ruling of the Khmer Rouge regime (1975-1979) was especially disastrous for the Cambodian Catholic Church with the death of all the native clergy and religious, including Bishop Joseph Chehmar Salas and Mgr. Paul Tep Im Sotha. The current Bishop of Phnom Penh, Mgr. Olivier Schmitthaeusler, appointed the former Bishop Yves Ramousse to research on the possibility to introduce the cause of martyrdom for Catholics, who were killed during the Pol Pot regime.