06/11/2004, 00.00
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A Church that has emerged from persecutions (Profile)

The Communist government of Pol Pot (1975-1979) eliminated the presence of the Church in Cambodia by destroying all the sacred buildings and preventing all religious observances. After the fall of the Khmer Rouge, the country regained religious freedom. In 1990, a church was opened in Phnom Penh. The institutional presence of the Church began again in 1992. Bishop Yves Ramousse became the apostolic vicar in Phnom Penh. In 1994, the Cambodian government established diplomatic relations with the Holy See. In 1995 the first Khmer priest in 20 year was ordained. In 2001, Bishop Emile Destombes succeeded Bishop Ramousse in Kampuchea.


The Catholics today in Kampuchea number 19 thousand; 8 thousand of them reside in Phnom Penh. The majority are ethnically Vietnamese, while the Khmer are only 6 thousand. The Church has taken Khmer as the official liturgical language. This raised some bad feelings among the Vietnamese community; in fact, not all the Vietnamese Catholics know the Khmer  langue .


The priests in the country number 50; there are 4 seminarians and 60 religious.

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