02/27/2013, 00.00
VATICAN - VIETNAM - PHILIPPINE

Benedict XVI's legacy: religious freedom and mission, from Vietnam to the Philippines

The pope was a model and guide for a nation ruled by a Communist government. A priest from Hue notes that Vietnam and the Holy See engaged in talks under Pope Benedict XVI. From predominantly Catholic Philippines comes a call to proclaim the Gospel.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "The Church in Vietnam needs witnesses of life and faith." Benedict XVI has been a "model and guide" in a nation ruled by a "Communist government that still restricts religious freedom," said Fr Joseph, a Vietnamese priest waiting in St Peter's Square to see his "beloved pope" who steps down from the Pontifical Seat tomorrow. Fr Reinaldo, a Filipino missionary, is also in the crowd. For him, the mission is every Catholic's responsibility, especially in Asia's only predominantly Christian nation, now close to Card Antonio Tagle, the archbishop of Manila and a possible successor to Benedict XVI.

"The Church in Vietnam needs a very strong faith," said Fr Joseph, from Hue (central Vietnam), because "we are still under a Communist government that restricts religious freedom." For him, Benedict XVI "represents faith in God" and "helps us become a model and witness to the world".

"In our society, faith is not deeply rooted and developed," the priest noted. "For this reason, it is important to promote it and proclaim it."

The pope, he explained, has gone a long way towards re-establishing diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Vietnam, but a lot remains to be done. "We look forward to the future, full of hope, and put ourselves in God's hands."

In concluding, "The Church in Vietnam needs to bear witness to life and faith," he said. "We need to be more Catholic."

Fr Reinaldo Bullas Jr, a Monfort missionary from the Philippines, is another witness. He is "sad but also happy for the pope and his decision. His pain and health problems prevented him from going on. For this reason, he took the great step." Benedict XVI's "constant call for unity" invites us "to deepen our love for the Church."

In the Philippines, we must offer "a deeper faith," he added, "taking part in the work of evangelisation at home and abroad. The mission is a duty for every Christian." (DS)

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