09/20/2010, 00.00
VIETNAM

Eighth anniversary of the death of Card. Nguyen Van Thuan marked

Thanh Thuy
The cardinal spent 13 years in prison under the communist government. His life is an example of faith and holiness for Catholics in Vietnam and the world. The cause for his beatification underway.

Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) - More than two thousand people participated in a solemn and moving commemoration of the 8th anniversary of the death of Cardinal Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan in the cathedral in Ho Chi Minh City.

He was born April 17, 1928 in the parish of Phu Cam. At a very young age he entered the minor seminary of An Ninh, then studied philosophy and theology at the seminary of Phu Xuan. Ordained priest on June 11, 1953 by Bishop. Urrutia, from 1964 to 1967 he was vicar general in the Archdiocese of Hue. On April 13, 1967 Pope Paul VI appointed him bishop of Nha Trang and on April 24, 1975 auxiliary bishop of Saigon. Six days later, on April 30 the revolutionary army of the communist government "entered Saigon".

Some " nationalist, pro-Communist priests, spoke ill of him. Thus, the new Communist government immediately had him interned in a re-education camp, where he remained for 13 years from 1975 to 1988 without trial. While in prison, he was able to get messages to his followers, brief reflections very clear, written on scraps of paper. These messages were then hand-copied and circulated throughout the Catholic community. They were collected in the book "The Road of Hope." Another book, “Prayers of Hope, "contains the prayers he wrote in prison. He even made a small Bible on pieces of paper. Some jailers who sympathised with him, smuggled him a piece of wood and twine, for a small crucifix.

In 1991 he was forced to leave his country and was received with pleasure by Pope John Paul II into the Roman Curia. In 1998 he became president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. On February 21, 2001 Nguyen Van Thuan was made a cardinal. A few days after Vietnam loosened its restrictions and the Cardinal was able to return to his homeland with the normal immigration procedures and was granted the facilities normally accorded to foreign nationals.

He died September 16, 2002 of cancer, in a clinic in Rome. Before his death he had appeared in a list of possible successors to John Paul II. On September 16, 2007, on the fifth anniversary of his death, the Church opened the cause for his beatification. Benedict XVI expressed "profound joy" at the announcement. The news was also greeted with enthusiasm by the Catholics of Vietnam, who consider him "an example of holiness for the Catholics of Vietnam and the entire world."

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