Hanoi (AsiaNews) - "Cardinal Joseph Pahm Dinh Tung, with his humble, devoted work in service of the poor and of the Church, is the model for the entire Vietnamese people": this is the view expressed by many, bishops and faithful, on the figure of the former archbishop of Hanoi, who died last February 22 at the age of 89.
The respect for him and for his work was manifested on the day of his funeral, February 26: at least 30,000 people attended, coming to the capital from all over the country. Many montagnards arrived the day before, sleeping in the open air or in makeshift shelters, just to be able to say their last goodbye to the cardinal's body, participating in a ceremony held at the cathedral.
20 bishops and 500 priests took part in the funeral, together with Cardinal Pham Minh Man, the archbishop of Ho Chi Minh City, whom Benedict XVI chose as his legate. The majority of the faithful followed the Mass from outside of the cathedral, on large video screens, wearing white headbands as a sign of mourning.
In the homily, Bishop Paul Nguyen Van Hoa of Nha Trang emphasized that the deceased cardinal "died in God because he lived in God," and asked the faithful to follow his example, "trusting in the love of God and laboring in works of charity."
Hung, one of the thousands of participants, said that Cardinal Pham Dinh Tung is "a pillar of Vietnam. He was a father for all of us." One elderly montagnard called his death "a gift for all Catholics of Vietnam, because they have been 'enlightened' (giac ngo) at the beginning of Lent."
The funeral was also attended by government representatives and figures from other religions; in addition to foreign representatives of the American embassy, the Korean community, and the foreign missions of Paris.
The body of the deceased cardinal was buried beneath the altar of the cathedral.