Rome (AsiaNews) – September 2 next bishops from the Episcopal Conference of Laos and Cambodia (Celac) for their will arrive in Rome for their ad limina visit. The last took place in 1999, after decades of absence. The 10 bishops and apostolic vicars will meet Benedict XVI for the first time in the Vatican to evaluate evangelization in one of the most difficult areas of South East Asia.
In Laos, Catholics (circa 41 thousand out of a total population of 6 million) live – like all other religions – under the harsh control of the communist leaning Lao People's Revolutionary Party; in Cambodia, the Church (23 thousand faithful out of a total population of 13 million) is slowly reawakening after the obliteration of its bishops, priests, religious and faithful by the Khmer Rouge.
Msgr. Alessando Stacciali, OMI missionary and apostolic vicar in Luang Prabang, expelled from Laos in 1975, will also attend the ad limina meetings. He is now involved in pastoral care for Laotian migrants.
OMI missionaries (Oblates of Mary Immaculate), who were involved in the evangelization of Laos have long asked for and obtained the opening of the canonization process for Fr. Mario Borzaga and the lay catechist hmong Thoj Xyooj Paolo, both killed by the Pathet Lao in 1960. Two bishops from Laos, Msgr. Tito Banchong and Msgr. Ling Mangkhanekhoun will give evidence at the canonization hearing. To this ends bishops from Laos will also visit the Vatican dicastery for the cause of the saints, in order to see what point the canonization process for the two martyrs has reached.
Taking advantage of their presence in Italy, Msgr Luigi Bressan, archbishop of Trento and former apostolic Nuncio to South East Asia has invited the 10 bishops to spend some time visiting his diocese. Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, Archbishop of Naples and former Prefect of the congregation for the evangelization of peoples has also invited the Laotian and Cambodian prelates to visit his city.