Louis-Marie Ling Mangkhanekhoun, an Apostolic Vicar of Laos, will be the country’s first cardinal. Pope Francis wanted to show his closeness to Laos’ small Catholic community, the most persecuted in all of Southeast Asia.
Christians in Laos are scarcely 1% out of the country’s six million inhabitants. Since 1975, they have suffered continuous attacks to their religious freedom, such as being forced out of their houses and, at times, even imprisonment camps.
In the words of the new Cardinal, he is experiencing a rebirth in Lao’s Church. “When I first arrived in Paksé there was just one active priest and another one retired and very old.” Now, after many years of work- 14, to be precise- there are 6 priests.