Local sources have confirmed to the news agency Fides, that the government of Laos has authorised the construction of churches in Bokeo, a northern province of the country. The same sources have indicated that construction will begin shortly.
    When the communists arrived in 1975, all foreign missionaries were expelled. Many local priests were imprisoned or sent to re-education camps. The 16 existing Catholic schools, with more than 9000 pupils, as well as the Church's social centres, were nationalised. Many ecclesiastical buildings were confiscated or used for other purposes.
    In 1989, the state prohibited all Christians in the north, whether Catholic or Protestant, from attending religious services. It was not until 1991, that there were signs of relaxation. A number of priests were released, there was greater freedom of worship, and permission was granted for the building of a few churches.
    In recent years, the Apostolic Nuncio of Thailand, Singapore and Cambodia, who is an Apostolic Delegate in Laos, funded the building of a number of schools and the rebuilding of a leper colony run by Italian missionaries until the 1960s.

10:50am 11/5/99 / Zenit


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