Ho Chi Minh City ( AsiaNews) - The Archdiocese of Ho Chi Minh City in southern Vietnam is bidding farewell to Cardinal Jean Baptiste Pham Minh Man, who, after 16 years of passionate service to the local Catholic community, is stepping down on having reached retirement age. On 22 March, Francis Pope accepted the resignation of Cardinal according to Canon 401, of the Code of Canon Law. He will be succeeded in the government of the archdiocese of Saigon by his coadjutor bishop Msgr. Paul Bui Van Đọc, the current president of the Episcopal Commission for the Doctrine of the Faith, who previously led the Diocese of Mỹ Tho.
Card. Pham Minh Man was born in 1934 in Thanh Hoa , in the province of Ca Mau, in the Diocese of Can Tho. Having reached the age of 80, the cardinal will no longer participate in conclave, after having been present at the last two - which led to the election of Pope Benedict XVI in 2005 and Francis in 2013 - as a cardinal elector.
The Archdiocese of Ho Chi Minh City is one of the most important centers for Catholicism throughout the Asian continent. It includes 10 other diocese in the south of the country and consists of more than 200 parishes, for a total of about 900 thousand faithful. 2014 is dedicated to Evangelization of the family, where all faithful are called to promote initiatives aimed at the core foundation of the Vietnamese society and in favor of children. On several occasions the leaders of the Archdiocese have called on Catholics to strengthen their faith promoting concrete activities on a pastoral level and in social development.
Out of a population of about 87 million people in Vietnam today, 48% are Buddhists, slightly more than 7 % are Catholic, 5.6% syncretistic, and approximately 20% declare themselves to be atheist.