04/21/2011, 00.00
VIETNAM

First visit to Vietnam by a representative of the Holy See

Emily Nguyen
Bishop Leopoldo Girelli, nuncio to Singapore and non-resident representative to Vietnam, will spend Holy Week in Hanoi. Benedict XVI appointed him on 13 January. His posting is the first concrete result of talks between the Holy See and Vietnam.
Hanoi (AsiaNews) – Bishop Leopoldo Girelli, representative of the Holy See to Vietnam, undertook his first visit to the country. The prelate arrived in Hanoi last Monday on the invitation of the Vietnamese Bishops’ Conference, welcomed by Archbishop Peter Nguyen Van Nhon and many other bishops as well as men and women religious. His trip includes a stop in Hanoi for Holy Week and Easter celebrations with Mass in the capital’s cathedral and a meeting with the city’s Catholic community. He will also participate in the biannual meeting of the Vietnamese Bishops’ Conference in Ho Chi Minh City on 25-28 April. Afterwards, he will travel to various dioceses in the southern part of the country before leaving for Singapore on 2 May.

On 13 January 2011, Benedict XVI appointed Mgr Girelli as apostolic nuncio to Singapore, as well as apostolic delegate to Malaysia and Brunei, and first non-resident representative to Vietnam. This appointment is the first concrete outcome of talks between Holy See and Vietnam, which have been going for a quite some time. In 2009, a joint Holy See-Vietnam group was set up to formalise negotiations.

On 19 April Mgr Girelli, the archbishop of Hanoi and other five prelates celebrated Chrism Mass. Mgr Girelli thanked his hosts for their warm welcome, expressing admiration for the country’s “dynamic and robust” religious life. He also urged priests to remain united with their bishops, and lead a religious existence “with a chaste spirit and a big heart”. He also reminded them that they do not live for themselves but for others.

State media did not report these Church-related events. Some reports did suggest that the faithful did not participate in the welcoming ceremony; however many of them were outside the Archbishop’s Residence, carrying banners that said, ‘Welcome the Holy See's Representatives to Hanoi,’ ‘The sheep need true shepherd’ and ‘The sheep need no rent-a-shepherd’.

The faithful reportedly presented a letter to Mgr Girelli whose contents are not known.

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