Government Hands over a Church to Catholic Community

AKP Phnom Penh, The Royal Government of Cambodia, through the Ministry of Environment, has handed over an old church at Preah Monivong Bokor National Park in Kampot province to the Catholic community for management and religious ceremonies.

Documents on the handover were signed at Bokor on Sunday by Bishop of the Apostolic Vicariate of Phnom Penh Olivier Schmitthaeusler, and a senior Cambodian official under the witness of H.E. Say Samal, Minister of Environment.

On the occasion, H.E. Say Samal said this church's handover reflects the royal government's attention to the promotion of religious freedom in the country.

H.E. Minister reiterated the significance of religious harmonisation in the Cambodian society and encouraged all stakeholders to join the royal government's efforts in preserving and protecting all ancient sacred sites and the natural heritage.

The Catholic National Office for Social Communication (CSC) reported that this church was built in the 1930s and had been used for ritual ceremonies until the 1970s and was abandoned until 1998. Since then, some ritual ceremonies were authorised by local authorities to be organised there, according to Bishop Olivier Schmitthaeusler.

According to the Ministry of Cults and Religious Affairs, there are two groups of Christianity in Cambodia � Catholic and Protestant. Catholicism has a total of some 12,900 followers while Protestantism, about 83,086 followers. Christianity has been present in Cambodia since 1923.

Cambodia is recognised by her religious freedom even though Buddhism is the state religion. Some 95 percent of the population of about 15 million are Buddhists with a total of 4,514 pagodas and 56,820 monks across the country. Islam has about 300,000 followers.

Source: Agency Kampuchea Press