Apostolic Vicariate of Phnom Penh

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Apostolic Vicariate of Phnom Penh
Vicariatus Apostolicus de Phnom-Penh
Country Cambodia
Area 31,946 km2 (12,334 sq mi)
- Total
- Catholics
(as of 2010)
13,283 (0.3%)
Denomination Roman Catholic
Sui iuris church Latin Church
Rite Latin
Established 30 August 1850 (As Vicariate Apostolic of Cambogia)
3 December 1924 (As Vicariate Apostolic of Phnom-Penh)
Cathedral Saint Joseph Parish (Phsar Taught)
Current leadership
Pope Francis
Apostolic Vicar Olivier Schmitthaeusler, M.E.P.
Emeritus Bishops Émile Destombes Vicar Apostolic Emeritus (2001–2010)
Yves Ramousse Vicar Apostolic Emeritus (1992–2001)

The Apostolic Vicariate of Phnom Penh is a territorial subdivision of the Roman Catholic Church in Cambodia. It is immediately subject to the Holy See and it is presided by Bishop Olivier Schmitthaeusler since 10 October 2010.[1]

The vicariate covers an area of 31,946 km² of southern Cambodia, including Phnom Penh and other main urban areas such as Kep, Sihanoukville, Kandal, Takéo, Kampot, Kampong Speu and Koh Kong provinces. As of 2002, of the 4.4 million citizens living in the area of this prefecture, 13,250 were members of the Catholic Church. The vicariate is subdivided into 7 pastoral centers, and has 26 priests.


The Vicariate Apostolic of Cambodia was erected on 30 August 1850. Since 1860 it was responsible for the provinces Phsar Dek, Châu Đốc and Sóc Trăng of lower Cambodia, now part of Vietnam. In 1924, it was renamed as Vicariate Apostolic of Phnom Penh. On 20 September 1955, the vicariate became responsible for all of Cambodia. In 1968, the vicariate was split into three parts, with the Apostolic Prefecture of Battambang responsible for the north west and the Apostolic Prefecture of Kompong Cham for the north east of the country.

During the rule of the Khmer Rouge, all religious activities were forbidden, and many Catholics were persecuted, especially priests and other ordinaries. Also many Vietnamese Catholics, the majority of Catholics in Cambodia, were either executed or expelled from the country. Most churches were also destroyed. The number of Catholics in the area of the vicariate fell from about 30,000 to less than 10,000. In 1990, the new constitution of Cambodia allowed free worship again.

On 24 December 2009 the French priest Olivier Schmitthaeusler, M.E.P. was named Coadjutor Vicar Apostolic of Phnom-Penh and Titular Bishop of Catabum Castra. He succeeded to bishop Destombes on 1 October 2010.

On 1 May 2015 the Cambodian Catholic Church opened an official diocesan inquiry for the martyrs in Tangkok, Kampong Thom Province, where Bishop Joseph Chhmar Salas died during the Khmer Rouge regime in 1977. The inquiry looks after the presumed martyrdom of at least 34 persons executed or let to die from April 1975 to 1978.



  1. ^ Bishop Olivier Michel Marie Schmitthaeusler, M.E.P. Catholic Hierarchy Database. MicroData Summary for Olivier Michel Marie Schmitthaeusler. Link retrieved on 8 May 2015.

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