Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) John Paul II "was a great example", a "tireless messenger of God's word and a courageous pastor who knew how to lead the faithful beyond the difficulties without losing sight of unity and peace," Card Jean-Baptiste Pham Minh Man, archbishop of Minh City, told AsiaNews on the occasion of the first anniversary of the Pope's death.
"When, a year ago, I heard about his death I felt lost because I realised what it meant losing someone like him," the prelate said. "With his messages and pastoral activity he provided a unique example for the entire Church."
"He was example for me as a man and a pastor. As director of the My Tho seminary I always had his teachings before me and I always looked up to him to guide my archdiocese," the cardinal noted.
"He was a generous pastor but also someone very courageous who led Catholics despite moral and physical difficulties. He gave us the signal as to how to defeat the violence that rules the world."
Cardinal Pham Minh Man concluded saying that "John Paul II had a special relationship with Vietnam's Christian community whom he spurred into self-renewal through the values of the Gospeltruth, justice, unity, love and peacebut also the whole of society, through stable development".
Despite its eight million Catholics and Asia's second largest Catholic community, Vietnam like China has no diplomatic relations with the Vatican.
Although John Paul II was never allowed to travel to Vietnam, he was praised by the authorities and official medias of the Communist country the day after his death, including the homepage of Nhan Dan, the Vietnamese Communist Party's official newspaper.
On April 4, the Patriotic Front, the Communist Party's organisation in charge of religious policy, sent a message of condolences, which also appeared on the national newspaper's internet edition, to Vietnam's bishops praising John Paul II's efforts.
"Pope John Paul II," wrote Front chief Pham The Duyet, "was a religious leader who contributed to the search for peace and reconciliation and condemned genocides, criminal wars and the spread of AIDS."