In a message to the national congress on the Church in Cambodia which began in Phnom Penh on Saturday, 5 January, the Holy Father praised "the faith, courage, and perseverance of your pastors and of your Christian brothers and sisters" during the years of the Khmer Rouge when many Christians were assassinated.
The theme of the three day
conference is: 'Vatican Council II and the Church'.
The complete text of Pope Benedict XVI's message follows:
"Dear Brothers and Sisters in Cambodia, It is with great pleasure
that I join you in prayer these days and through the heart, send you
warm greetings while you gather around your pastors to celebrate the
fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council and
the twentieth anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I
hope that the Cambodian language translation of the conciliar documents
and the Catechism that you will receive on this occasion will allow you
to better understand the teaching of the Church and grow in faith".
"In this Year of Faith, I invite you to keep your eyes fixed on the
person of Jesus Christ who is the origin and end of our faith and to
reiterate the Good News to the world today. In Him, the examples of
faith that have marked our history, find their full light.
Also, remembering the period of troubles that precipitated your country
in the darkness, I would like to emphasize the faith, courage and
perseverance of your pastors and of your Christian brothers and sisters,
those so many who have died, is a noble testimony to the truth of the
Gospel. And this testimony has become a priceless spiritual strength to
rebuild the church community in your country. Today, many catechumens
and adult baptisms show your dynamism and is a happy sign of the active
presence of God in you".
"Dear brothers and sisters, after the
Apostle Paul, I urge you to 'keep the unity of the Spirit by the bond of
peace'. Be assured of the prayers of your brothers and sisters whose
blood flowed in the rice field! Be a leaven in the dough of your
society, witnessing to the love of Christ for all, building bonds of
brotherhood with members of other religious traditions, and walking on
the paths of justice and mercy".
"Dear young people, my friends who have been baptised in these recent
years, do not forget that the Church is your family; she is counting on
you to witness the life and the love that you have found in Jesus. I
pray for you and I invite you to be generous disciples of Christ".
"Cambodian seminarians, priests and religious, you are a sign of the
seeds of the Church that is building up herself. You have offered your
life and your prayers are a source of hope. May they be also an
invitation to other young people to give their lives as priests and
religious in the heart of God".
"Missionaries, religious, consecrated laity from five continents, be
the beautiful sign of ecclesial communion around your pastors so that
your brotherhood in the diversity of your charismas may lead many people
you serve and love with zeal to meet Jesus Christ".
"And all of you, who seek God, persevere and be sure that Christ loves you and offers you His peace!".
"Beloved brothers and sisters, pastors and faithful of Cambodia, may
the Virgin Mary, Our Lady of the Mekong, in her humility and fidelity to
the will of the Lord, enlighten you throughout this Year of Faith. Be
sure that I keep you in my prayers and from the bottom of my heart I
convey upon you all an affectionate Apostolic Blessing!".