Kompong Cham (Agenzia Fides) - "There is perhaps a new image of the Church that is emerging in this period of pandemic: it is that of a Church that is based not only on the celebration of the Eucharist, but invites the faithful to pray and reflect together in the family, in their own homes, and reminds us how the presence of Christ in our lives can make us truly united". This was reported to Agenzia Fides by Father Bruno Cosme, priest of the Society for Foreign Missions of Paris (MEP) appointed last summer by Pope Francis as apostolic Administrator "sede vacante et ad nutum Sanctae Sedis" of the Apostolic Prefecture of Kompong Cham.
In Cambodia, 122 coronavirus cases have been reported so far by the authorities, with 105 patients recovered and discharged from hospitals and no deaths. The Country is therefore in a less serious health condition than others, even if the government has adopted a series of prevention and control measures", reads a note from the Ministry of health.
The measures include the strengthening of controls; the tracking and centralized management of people entering the country and those who have come into close contact with infected persons; the establishment of new specialized or reference hospitals for the treatment of Covid-19 patients, and the dissemination of information regarding how to protect yourself from the virus through the mass media.
Lessons at schools and gatherings have been suspended since March 17, 2020, even religious activities have been severely restricted: "In the prefecture of Kompong Cham the normal rhythm that marks the life of these small communities has slowed down - says Fr. Bruno - we cannot gather as we did before, however there is still the possibility of celebrating mass among us, priests, nuns, in very small groups. Because of the pandemic - he continues - we have postponed baptisms and first communions which we normally celebrate at Easter. Now, nobody knows when our catechumens will be able to celebrate baptism or draw close to the table of the Lord".
Father Cosme highlights how in this period the Church, thanks to the help of the media and social media, is offering its parishioners a space for dialogue and a new way of being united in prayer: "On social media, streaming for example, we broadcast the Holy Mass, recite a prayer or read a passage from the Gospel every day at 6 in the evening", he reports. "This pandemic obliges us to social distancing and deprivation - observes the apostolic Administrator - but it is equally true that this time can be a time of growth of faith and a gift for sacramental life. Then we must perhaps reflect on the meaning of the word desire: the desire, for example, to find ourselves together, to pray in the family, to confession, to participate in the Eucharist".
"I hope this experience teaches us to grasp the sign of times with more attention - Father Cosme underlines - and to have the certainty that, although surrounded by the threat of disease, nothing can ever separate us from the love that unites us men and women, and makes us community. In this sense - he concludes - it is necessary to set off, not stop and look at the situation of the world, of society, of the church, in a new renewed vision".
The Apostolic Prefecture of Kompong Cham oversees the Catholic community in the eastern part of Cambodia. Its territory is divided into 27 parishes and currently has 3,000 baptized out of about 6 million inhabitants, with a percentage equal to 0.1%. (ES) (Agenzia Fides, 16/5/2020)