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Litlte Rock, Arkansas
July 18, 1969     Arkansas Catholic
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July 18, 1969
 

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PAGE 14 THE GUARDIAN, JULY 18, 1969 Asian Communists Now Control Most of Laos The National Catholic News Service reports that South Viet- nam is not the only Asiatic land coveted bY the communists. In a report, written by The Rev. Matt J. Menger, O.M.I., the first U. S. missionary assigned to Laos, N. C. News says that "more than two-thirds of the country (Laos) is presently occupied or controlled by the communist forces." Of the total Laotian population of 2.7-million, more than half is in the communist zone. Whenever possible, the civilians attempt to flee to government-held territory, with the result that 30,000 refu- gees now are being supported en- tirely by the royal Lao government aided by the U. S. Terror is commonplace in Laos. As recently as July 5, Pathet Lao communists killed a French Catholic missionary and seriously wounded two nuns in an ambush near Paksane on the Mekong river. The official Lao press agency said the terrorists used a Chinese-made rocket in ambushing a Landrover jeep driven by Father Joseph Boissel. His charred body was found hours af- ter the attack. The two Sisters were taken to a hospital. Father Boissel was the 10th Catholic priest killed by the Pathet Lea since 1960. The Pathet Lao, comprised mainly of North Vietnamese troops, captured in late June the important military post of Muong Suoi which climaxed intense fight- ing in the north-central highlands of Lans, Muong Suoi is situated onahigh mountain overlooking Route 7, just west of the communist headquar- ters in the Plain of Jars. For the past several months the Lao-Viet- namese communist forceshave in- tensified their bombing of this camp. Because of its strategic position Muon Suoi and Sam Tong, 50 miles to the south, were the royal Lao army's two most im- portant military camps in north- ern Laos. Especially since the cessation of American bombing of North Vietnam last summer, the com- munist forces in Laos have in- creased their attacks through- out the entire kingdom of Laos. Because of its strategic position in the center of Southeast Asia, Laos is today one of the most im- portant nations in that region and the world. Its two communist neighbors, China in the north and North Vietnam in the east, are constantly sending their patrols across the borders into Laos. At present, 5,000 Chinese engineers and construction workers are cutting a road from the Yunnan province of China down through the Phong Saly province of Laos to the city of Muong Sai, then linking up with North Vietnam. This road is 20 feet wide, suffi- cient for two-lane traffic. It is the only means of vehicle traffic in the northernprovinces of Laos. North Vietnam alsohascut many roads and foot trails through the jungles and mountains of the en- tire eastern and central section of Laos. For several years these roads and trails have served as the principal passageway for troops and equipment destined for the Yiet Miah and Viet Cong sol- diers fighting in South Vietnam. North Vietnam is also using Laos as a passage to Thailand. During the past year, the com- munists have increased and in- tensified their terrorist attacks in northeastern Thailand. There are 50,000 North Viet- namese soldiers fighting in Laos. They form the backbone of the Pathet Lao army. This Asian kingdom has been almost constantly at war since 1940. In March, 1945, it was conquered by Japanese troops. Japan was forced to retreat af- ter the U.S.-Jupanese Armistice of August, 1945. However, a few months later the Lao Issara-- later known as the Pathet Lao -- began organizing guerrilla-type attacks on the villages and ci- ties throughout Lans. Constant wars are Laos' prin- cipal obstacle to development. Laos is the most undeveloped na- tion in all of Asia. It has the lowest annual per capita income (967), the lowest literacy rate (12 per cent), and the shortest life expectancy (30). Over 80 per cent of the population lives in isolated villages with no roads, no communications, no hospitals or schools. Outside of the few cities, there is no electricity, public water system, telelJhones. The infant mortality rate is the highest in the world, 80 per cent dying before the age of 15. This is caused by a lack of medicines and medical facilities. The system of education in Laos extends only through the secondary Valu Arkansas' own stamp Is herel OET SHUR-VALU STAIIP! AT iRCHANT'$ OISIq.AYING TDE SHUR-VA4.U EMBLEll REDEEM YOUR SHUR-VALU STAMPS AT 111 DIFFERENT LOCATIO level. There are no universities. Skilled labor is at a minimum. The history of the Catholic Church in Laos has been a stormy one. It has taken more than 250 years to establish a beachhead, 250 years of persecution andper- sistence. The first attempt was made in 1630 by a young Jesuit priest, Father Leria, stationed in Bang- kok, Thailand (Siam). After a brief sojourn in Vientiane and unsuccessful attempts at evange- lization, he returned to Siam. As group after group of cour- ageous young missionaries en- tered Laos, the number of mar- tyrs increased. In 1878, 14priests arrived from Tonkin. By the endof that year, six had been murdered and seven died from malaria and other tropical fevers. The sole survivor succeeded in escaping back to Tonkin, only to die a few months later because of broken health. During the following decade another group of missionaries ar- rived. One survived. Several years later two more joined him and they, too, survived. Thus the Catholic Church had estab- lished its beachhead in the king- dom of Laos. The state religion of Laos is Buddhism. Although the first missionary went to Laos over 250 years ago there are today only 25,000 Catholics in the entire country. The majority of these are cut off from the Church be- cause of their isolation in com- munist-held zones. Today 95 priests, Oblates of Mary Immaculate, Foreign Mis- sionaries of Paris, and native diocesan clergy, and 125 nuns, Sisters of Charity, Oblate Miss- ionaries of Mary Immaculate and Lovers of the Cross, are pre- sently laboring in Laos. Due to the dire poverty and extreme backwardness of the country, the Church has em- barked on a large-scale program of socio-economic development. Among the many works which 90 Foundations Give $2-Million ToU.$.C.hurches Washington (NC) -- More than 90 foundations have awarded grants of more than 910,000 to individual churches and temples this year, according to a semi-annual list of grants published in the July- August issue of Foundation News magazine. The magazine reported all grants to religious organizations that totaled more than 910,000. The grants to individual churches and temples alone amounted to over $2-million. Eight grants were made for buildings and equipment, totaling 9232,500. Recipients range from the Baltimore archdiocesan build- ing fund, to a Catholic church in California, for the purchase of European works of art. Religious associations, varying from the National Council of Cath- olic Men (950,000) to the Chris- tian Anti-Communist Crusade (930,000), received a total of almost 94-million from 108 dif- ferent sources. Under grants for religious wen fare, 29 organizations gave about 9850,000 to groups such as dio- cesan Catholic Charities organiza- tions and the Urban TralningCen- tel for training ministers for inner-city work. have already been undertaken are: training centers for village girls with specially devised curriculums of literacy, child care, sewing, gardening, animal husbandry; vil- lage family visitation programs, mobile programs bringing med- ical and material aid to pri- mitive villages in the Mekong Val- ley; job placement bureaus which put unskilled workers in various jobs -- as domestics, gardeners, chauffeurs, shop clerks -- hos- tels for refugee boys and girls, and young workers; orphanages, leper villages, and dispensaries. The Catholics of the U. S., through the Catholic Relief Ser- vices (CRS) and individual do- nors, are playing an important role in the Church's socio-eco- nomic development programs in Laos. This year the CRS will send to Laos 2.4 million pounds of food and 25 tons of medicine and clothing to help relieve the suffering of this war-battered kingdom. Vatican City (NC)-- VI left the Vatican begin his annual Rome's heat at his in the foothills of the at Castelgandolfo. The Pope, in an open ed thousands of visitors ists as he was miles to his summer narrowly missed an downpour of rain the city shortly side its limits. The Pope will work schedule while gandolfo, but will be the rest of the month for his visit to which begins July 31. Keep The MAKE A Weekend Retreat FOR THE GOOD OF YOUR SOUL At St. John's Home Missions Seminary Ft. of N. Tyler St., Little FOR WOMEN I-'] August ] - 3 August 15 i 17 FOR MEN ["7 August 8 - r'] August 22 At New Subiao Abbey Subiaco, Arkansas FOR WOMEN July 25 FOR MEN [-IAugust 15 17 SPECIAL GROUPS [-]August 8 10 (Oblates of Sto Benedict) (.?,rd. Order Ca SINGLE WOMEN FAMILIES August 22 24 [-JAugust 1 - CLIP ENTIRE SCHEDULE, CHECK RETREAT Mail To: Laymen's Retreat League, At Address Where Retreat WlH Be Conducted, Name Address Parish If unable to climb stairs, check here [-] Mou wi,,