Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) – From north to south Easter in Vietnam provided an opportunity to promote missionary action and help people at the bottom of society, made poor by the country’s economic transformation.
“Easter celebrations mark our salvation and we want to share our joy with everyone,” said Father Matthew of Thai Ha Parish in Hanoi. For several months the parish has been under strong pressure from the municipal government to give up claims to land and building seized from the Church.
In Ho Chi Minh City, archbishop Jean-Baptiste Phạm Minh Mẫn urged the faithful to bear witness of the joy of Easter to non Christians.
In the south the Church is also involved in caring for AIDS patients, old people without medical coverage, street kids, housing troubled students in Church-run shelters, dormitories, kindergarten and dispensaries.
Many non-Christian students expressed their happiness that they could take part in activities related to the occasion like singing.
In a rare move government papers published articles about Easter celebrations. In their coverage they explained how the solemnity is celebrated in Vietnam and around the world.
Since the country embarked on economic reforms in the 1990s the gap between haves and have-nots has widened. This has in turn caused major social problems like corruption, red tape, greed and a loss of ideals, which the government seems powerless to deal with.
The Catholic Church has tried to fill the gap by trying to meet the new needs. It has set up hundreds of kindergartens, drug rehabilitation centres, AIDS hospices and drop-in centres for migrant workers.