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Monks gather for congress

Saffron-robed monks attend the 19th National Monk Congress held at Chaktomuk Theatre on Tuesday.Photo by: Pha Lina
More than 800 monks from across the country gathered in Phnom Penh for
the 19th National Monk Congress Tuesday, where they received reminders
of the importance of Buddhist morality following a year that saw
frequent transgressions by wayward members of the monkhood.

In a
speech at the closing ceremony of the congress, Deputy Prime Minister
Men Sam An told participants that Buddhism was traditionally a source
of knowledge for young Cambodians.

As a result, she said,
monks have a duty to inculcate the proper moral virtues and contribute
to social development, calling on members of the monkhood to strive to
apply “Buddhist principles” in their daily lives.

“Religion is
an essential way of improving development because religion attracts
participations from all levels of people,” she said.

“Buddhism
has improved the morality of the people, as well as helping Buddhist
monks join together with the people to develop Cambodian society.”

2010
was marked by a series of transgressions – criminal and otherwise – by
members of the Cambodian monkhood. Most infamously, Neth Kai, a monk at
Srah Chak pagoda in Phnom Penh, was sentenced to 17 years prison in
October for secretly videotaping hundreds of naked women bathing in the
pagoda bathroom.

On a more positive note, Men Sam An hailed the
great strides taken by the monkhood since the overthrow of the Pol Pot
regime 32 years ago on Friday. She said only seven monks survived the
regime, a number that has grown to 56,301 today.

Minister of
Cults and Religions Min Khin also told the congress that the Ministry
was in the process of reforming the structures of the Buddhist sangha, or community, to promote national development and strengthen adherence to Buddhist morals.

“We
are now strengthening the administration of monk structures, as well as
improving pagodas’ administration, Buddhist studies and the
distribution laws and regulations relating to the Buddhist religion, a
move aimed at maintaining stability, peace and social progress,” he
said.

Phnom Penh Post
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Categories: Local News
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