» 02/02/2008 13:22 VIETNAM - VATICAN Archbishop of Hanoi confirms restitution of nunciature, thanks pope by J.B. An Dang In an open letter, Archbishop Joseph Ngô Quang Kiệt has confirmed the government's agreement to return to the Church the use of the building that housed the apostolic nunciature, which the communists took over in 1959. He expressed special thanks to the pope and to Cardinal Bertone, who followed the events in Hanoi "closely and attentively".
Hanoi (AsiaNews) - The archbishop of Hanoi confirmed yesterday evening that the Vietnamese government is restoring to the Catholic Church the use of the building that housed the apostolic nunciature. In an open letter addressed to the priests, religious, seminarians, and lay faithful of the archdiocese, the archbishop emphasized his appreciation for the solidarity shown "not only by the faithful of the archdiocese of Hanoi, but by the entire world".
Since last December 18th, thousands of Vietnamese Catholic faithful had protested in daily prayer vigils before the former nunciature of Hanoi, to ask the government to return it to the Church. The building had been confiscated by the communist leadership in 1959. In these 40 days of protests, the archbishop continued, "We have lived a new Pentecost. We have been united and devoted ourselves to the prayers, despite challenges and hardship”.
In fact, "under the frigid rain and the biting wind, one cannot help but admire the fervent devotion and the profound attachment to the Church, the bond between pastor and flock, the friendship among the faithful, and the devoted prayers to the Lord. These are all a gift of grace from God".
But now, the archbishop and added, "our prayers have been heard. The restaurant [editor's note: which was to replace the nunciature] has been closed, and our community has taken down the tents that it had set up during the days of protest. The large cross [editor's note: carried by the faithful to the place of the protest and set beside a statue of the Virgin Mary] was carried back in procession to the Cathedral of St Joseph. All of this took place at the right time: I could no longer bear to watch you face this frigid winter".
The protest of the Vietnamese Catholics was followed by various Catholic news outlets, including AsiaNews, and through these by the entire world. In conclusion, Archbishop Ngô thanked "the entire Vietnamese people and the people of the world for their prayers and their support", and he wished all "a happy lunar new year, full of God's abundant graces".