12/01/2015, 00.00
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Amid war and violence, Mercy is the way to reconcile people, says Vicar of Phnom Penh

by Olivier Schmitthaeusler*
​In a pastoral letter for the Year of Jubilee, Mgr Olivier Schmitthaeusler calls on the faithful to be living signs of God’s Mercy and live together as brothers and sisters. The prelate urges believers to undertake pilgrimages to Christian holy places in Cambodia, and announces events for next year.

Phnom Penh (AsiaNews) – The apostolic vicar to Phnom Penh, Mgr  Olivier Schmitthaeusler, issued a pastoral letter to present the many activities promoted by the Church in Cambodia for the Jubilee of Mercy. The latter will provide an opportunity for reconciliation in a nation marked in its recent past by conflict and violence that were never fully dealt with.

This year will be dedicated to the martyrs and those at the bottom of society, as Pope Francis himself requested several times and on several occasions. It will stretch from the official opening on 10 December of the Holy Door in the Vicariate Pastoral Centre, through spiritual retreats and moments of prayer, to the conference on God’s mercy planned for Lent.

The Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy Pope Francis announced for 8 December will not be celebrated only in Rome, but in all the dioceses of the world and in the main religious shrines.

Here, below, is Mgr Schmitthaeusler’s letter, sent to (and translated by AsiaNews):

Merciful like the Father then is the motto of the Holy Year. In mercy, we have proof of how God loves. He gives all of himself, forever, freely, without asking anything in return. He comes to our aid when we call upon him. It is good that the daily prayer of the Church begins with these words, “‘O God, come to my assistance. O Lord, make haste to help me!’ (Ps 70:2). The assistance we ask for is already the first step of God’s mercy toward us. He comes to assist us in our weakness. And his help consists in helping us accept his presence and closeness to us. Day after day, touched by his compassion, we also can become compassionate towards others’ (Misericordiae Vultus, n. 14).”

Dear brothers and sisters,

The Holy Father called on the whole Church to experience a great Jubilee of Mercy, which will begin on 8 December, the day of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, and end on 20 November 2016, feast day of Christ the King.

Our planet is suffering because of war, violence, and hatred.

Mercy is the way God gives us to reconcile humanity and live together as brothers and sisters, in peace and harmony.

Our vicariate is happy to welcome this time of grace for our spiritual renewal, reconciling us with God and our neighbours.

Since 2014, we have been experiencing the Year of Charity.

In the first year, the image of the Good Samaritan guided us in welcoming each other as our neighbours, with compassion and care. In the second year, the image of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples helped us become servants of love in action. This year, with the Father who welcomes his lost son we discover the ultimate expression of charity, God's mercy.

On 10 December, we shall officially open the Holy Door of the Vicariate at  Phnom Penh Thmey Pastoral Centre; the Parish of St Joseph with Our Martyrs and Our Lady of the Mekong in Areyksat will follow on 13 December and 1 January respectively.

Each community in the Vicariate will be invited to undertake a pilgrimage of the Holy Year to these three different places.

During the year, several events will be organised to enable all of us to experience a real interior conversion.

Accepting the Holy Father’s proposal, I call on each of you henceforth to prepare to "experience corporal and spiritual works of mercy" so that we may be marked by God’ immense love for all of humanity, in particular for the children who are so numerous in our society.

May this be a year of reconciliation in our hearts, in our families, in our communities and in our country, which is preparing to open up to the biggest common market of ASEAN.

God is love! We need to be living signs of the Father of Mercy.

Peace and joy be with all of you.

* Mgr Olivier Schmitthaeusler is the apostolic vicar to Phnom Penh

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