Former Khmer Rouge seek forgiveness offered by christianity

Khmer Rouge

Bishop Enrique Figaredo addressed the Assembly of Catholic Professionals in Brisbane last week, during an Australian tour that included his attendance at Proclaim 2018.

Born in Gijon, Spain in 1959, he joined the Society of Jesus he was stationed at refugee camps near the Thai border from 1984-1988.

Since 2000 he has been the Apostolic Prefect of Battambang, a city on the banks of the Sangkae River in northwestern Cambodia.

Figaredo recently told UCAN News that conversions to Christianity, usually Protestantism, were quite common among former Khmer Rouge soldiers.

He said former Khmer Rouge soldiers used to come to his church.

Some were haunted by the ghosts of the past, hinting at the atrocities they witnessed or participated in.”They were Catholics but also former Khmer Rouge,” he said.

Some would bring their kids while they stayed outside. I’d invite them in but something was stopping them. They would say things like, ‘I did some bad thing so I can’t come in yet’,” he recalls.

Figaredo said he can understand why they turned to Christianity instead of Buddhism, the predominant faith in Cambodia.

“In Christianity, there is forgiveness and there is hope,” he said.

“All depends on God’s judgment, and they can try to transform their lives.

“Moreover, Buddhism stresses karma whereas Christianity offers salvation, which may have held more appeal.”

Figaredo is also known as Kike or the bishop of the wheelchairs because of his work with people who had lost arms and legs fleeing or fighting with or against the murderous Pol Pot regime.



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News category: Asia Pacific.

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