Spanish priest a good shepherd for ex-Khmer Rouge

Light of truth

Within weeks of the collapse of the final remnants of the Khmer Rouge in late 1998, Father Enri-que Figaredo, also known as “Kike” or “The Bishop of the Wheelchair,” went to visit some of the movement’s last-standing cadres after hearing they needed assistance.

During the decades-long civil war, many had lost limbs to land-mines and were struggling after the group’s ultra-Communist leadership had defected, died or been arrested.

While many people would have been apprehensive to say the least about entering an area that until recently had been controlled by one of the most feared revolutionary movements of the 20th century, Father Figaredo saw it as his calling. “I remember going to one of the furthest corners of Cambodia,” he said from within the grounds of Battambang Catholic Church, or Pet Yiey Chee as it is known by locals.

“They asked for my support. I went to see them and gave them chickens so they could have eggs and meat. I also gave them small loans,” most of which are still being put to use today, he said.

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