Vatican Cardinal visits Laos
Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, celebrated Mass in the Laotian capital of Vientiane on Thursday, as part of a visit to a number of Asian countries that also included Burma.
The Fides news agency reported that the Cardinal said in his homily: "My heart is filled with gratitude to God for giving me this opportunity to celebrate the Eucharist here in your noble land and to sing with you the praises of the Lord Jesus who calls us to give thanks to God the Father".
"The Pope sends you his paternal and affectionate greetings, and also his Blessing for you, your families and your communities. I have come on behalf of the Pope to strengthen you in the faith which you possess thanks to evangelisation which has borne fruit in your country. Jesus urges you to have courage, not to be afraid, because he has conquered the world".
Cardinal Sepe said that although it is small, the Church in Laos, "is a fruit of generous work of valorous missionaries and Christian martyrs who shed their blood to bear witness to Christ, to defend their faith and build up the Church". Laos is less than one per cent Catholic.
The main concern of the missionaries, the Cardinal said, was to train local catechists, priests and men and women religious. Today "sons of your nation guide your local Church …Yes, it is your duty to strengthen the faith of the Church in Laos and to help it grow in holiness".
During his visit Cardinal Sepe blessed a new Sports Centre for Disabled People in Vientiane. In his address he said "the Church encourages sport and recognises its positive values", because "the goal of sport is the development of the person, the whole person, spiritual and corporal dimensions".
Cardinal Sepe's pastoral visit in Laos: I have come above all to thank you for your loyalty to the Apostolic See and to encourage you to bear ever bolder witness to Jesus and his Gospel in daily life (Fides 25/11/04)
In Myanmar, Cardinal Sepe Aims to Inspire the Flock (Zenit 25/11/04)
Laos Govt accused of persecuting Christians (CathNews 28/4/03)
Howard flies into storm over ASEAN treaty (The Sun-Herald 28/11/04)
Catholic Church in Laos | Laos statistics by Diocese (catholic-hierarchy.org)
29 Nov 2004