Jesuits in Cambodia respond to Laudato si’
After the release of Laudato si’ in May and the Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific’s response in July, the Jesuits in Cambodia met to reflect on the Holy Father’s encyclical and how they can respond to his call through their ministries.
The Jesuits, volunteers, religious sisters, and Khmer collaborators of Jesuit Mission Cambodia welcome and support the latest encyclical of Pope Francis, Laudato si’ (On Care for Our Common Home).
The Pope’s letter speaks poignantly to us in our present time and place. Last year, Cambodia ranked first in the world for the highest rate of forest loss between 2001 and 2014, with the effect of this “suffered by the poorest,” especially the indigenous communities of the northeast. Our cities, such as Siem Reap and Phnom Penh, are developing rapidly, yet more and more are socially excluded, many have no voice against the rich and powerful who take advantage of them, and it is doubtful whether our economic growth leads to “integral development and an improvement in the quality of life” for the common Cambodian.
Yet, we live in one of the most bountiful places on earth! The Mekong River, together with the Tonle Sap Lake, has one of the highest values for inland capture fisheries in the world. The Mekong River feeds into the Mekong Delta, which produces around half the rice for all the people of Vietnam. Millions of people depend on these natural systems for their livelihood and their own lives.
Thus, we hear the Pope’s call for an integrated approach that “concern for the environment thus needs to be joined to a sincere love for our fellow human beings”. We acknowledge the need for personal conversion, where each person is engaged accordingly, without which our plans for communal action become simply another project or just someone else’s work.
Therefore, we, as individuals and as one community, commit to responding to the Pope’s call through changes in our own lifestyles and through our ministries here in Cambodia.
Our ministries with people with disabilities, refugees, youth, Catholic communities and Buddhist friends, allow us to collaborate and help in the formation of how we are intimately interrelated with one another, with other creatures, and with the whole web of creation. We can help in the formation of the family, in appreciating beauty in the everyday, in first responding to God with gratitude, and pursuing “little daily actions” with “nobility”.
We also commit to accompany and help poor communities which are directly facing the effects of a changing climate, especially indigenous groups such as the Kuy people. This ministry may not be possible for us all, but surely we support and encourage those for whom it is.
Finally, we pledge our prayers for Pope Francis, that he may continue to shepherd the faithful, especially the poor, the weak, and the voiceless, and show God’s love and mercy to all of creation.
Cambodia Jesuit Mission
October 9, 2015
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Read the JCAP Statement on Laudato si' here.