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  • » 02/16/2015, 00.00


    Cardinal of Hanoi: Suffering has strengthened Church in Vietnam

    Dario Salvi

    Msgr. Pierre Nguyen Van Nhon says his appointment to the College of Cardinals is a sign of "Pope Francis’ desire to introduce the distant Churches ". Through the difficulties Catholics have built a "stronger, more solid” faith. The cardinal invites to "proclaim" the Gospel with "growing force". He asks Catholics around the world to "pray for us."

    Vatican City (AsiaNews) - The Archbishop of Hanoi's elevation to the College of Cardinals "manifests Pope Francis' desire to introduce the churches that are distant, but that are also equally part of the Church of Christ". But above all, it is also the sign of the Pope's "attention" to the realities "that have suffered much in the past, and it is thanks to this suffering that our faith has become stronger, more solid every day", says Card. Pierre Nguyen Van Nhon, Archbishop of Hanoi, speaking to AsiaNews about his appointment as cardinal - 20 new cardinals, including three from Asia - in the February 14 consistory. A day of celebration for Catholics in Vietnam, some of whom queued to pay tribute the new cardinal during the traditional greeting in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall.

    Cardinal Pierre Nguyen Van Nhon was born April 1, 1938 in Da Lat. At 11 he entered the minor seminary of Saint Joseph in Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City), and then attended the Pontifical College of St. Pius X in Da Lat for philosophical and theological studies. Ordained a priest on 21 December 1967, he taught at the minor seminary of Da Lat, then became rector of the seminary. On 19 October 1991, John Paul II appointed him coadjutor bishop of the diocese and his episcopal ordination was on 3 December. From 2007 to 2013, he served as president of the Vietnamese bishops' conference. Promoted coadjutor Archbishop of Hanoi April 22, 2010, on May 13 he succeeded Msgr. Joseph Ngo Quang Kiet following his resignation from pastoral governance.

    In recent years he has tried to mediate with the Communist authorities in Hanoi, often the protagonists of violence, abuse and even persecution of the local Catholic community. The cardinal at first was accused of being to acquiescent and conciliatory towards the authorities.  In reality, he has always defended the principle of religious freedom and intervened forcefully in disputes that involved the possession of the land and property of the Church, or the attacks on the diocese of Vinh.

    "Vietnam is poor, it can be said that the country still lacks everything," says the new cardinal, who adds, however, that "one thing is certain, there is no lack of faith Vietnam, and when you have the faith you have all you need". "We are very happy to be part of the Church of Christ - continues the Archbishop of Hanoi - and we intend increasingly proclaim the Gospel, walk the path of the new evangelization and proclaim the Good News to others."

    On the subject of freedom of religion and abuses against the Catholic community, the Cardinal said that "you need to be in Vietnam, to be on the ground, to really understand what it means". He adds that "if you are looking from outside, you cannot understand the situation" .He is asking Catholics around the world, however, to "pray for us" so "we can share our faith with a growing number of people."

    There are an estimated 90 million people living in Vietnam and the large majority are Buddhists (48%). Catholics are about 7% of the population, with 20%  of the population declaring themselves to be atheists or people who do not profess a particular faith. The Archdiocese of Hanoi has a population of over 5.6 million people, with about 350 thousand Catholics.


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    See also

    22/09/2005 VATICAN – VIETNAM
    Cardinal Sepe to visit Vietnam in November
    The visit is strictly pastoral and has no bearing on diplomatic talks. A new diocese in Ba Ria is to be inaugurated.

    22/11/2010 VATICAN - CHINA
    Cardinal Zen: there is no religious freedom in China
    Absolute control over the official community; sufferings of the underground community, manipulation and corruption of the bishops, who risk expressing only a formal allegiance to the Pope. The problems of the Church in China also come from the hesitation of the Catholic side. Growing risk of enslavement of pastors and that the directions of Benedict XVI in his letter to the faithful of the Church in China, will be forgotten. Card. Zen’s report before his fellow cardinals and the pope during the Consistory.

    06/12/2006 HONG KONG – CHINA – VIETNAM
    Card. Zen: “Beijing should learn from Vietnam and be open to religious freedom”
    After a two-day visit in Ho Chi Minh City, the bishop of Hong Kong talked to AsiaNews about the deep faith of the Vietnamese people and the openness of the government towards the Church. He invited China to disavow the Patriotic Association and grant full freedom to its Catholics.

    24/03/2014 VIETNAM - VATICAN
    Saigon: Archdiocese and faithful thank Card. Jean Baptiste Pham Minh Man
    After 16 years of passionate service, the cardinal steps down on having reached retirement age. He is succeeded by the coadjutor bishop Msgr. Paul Bui Van Đọc. The Archdiocese of Ho Chi Minh City consists of more than 20 parishes for a total of 900 thousand faithful. 2014 dedicated to Evangelization of the family.

    04/05/2017 20:04:00 VATICAN – VIETNAM
    Pope acknowledges the "heroic virtues" of Cardinal Van Thuân, witness of hope

    After 13 years in prison without trail, under harsh conditions, he was the "witness of hope", a theme to which he dedicated thoughts and writings. John Paul II said he spent a life “in coherent and heroic adherence to one's vocation", whilst Benedict XVI quoted him twice in Spe Salvi.

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