05/07/2013, 00.00
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New Evangelisation, bearing witness to Christ among Vietnam's non-believers

by Thanh Thuy
In the Year of Faith, the local Church promotes the task of mission to "meet Jesus in friendship." In late April, more than 400 priests met in the north for their annual gathering, to share "humanity, spirituality, social and pastoral issues." For the papal representative, priests are "ministers of the Word of God for all".

Hanoi (AsiaNews) - The New Evangelisation is not a "new product" that the Church wants to bring to a hypothetical "market of new religions." On the contrary, it originates from the heart of every person who seeks to "meet Jesus in friendship", who wants to commit himself "to Him and to give life to his teachings," said Mgr Joseph Nguyen Nang, bishop of the Diocese of Phat Diem, in northern Vietnam, as he talked about the meaning of mission and being a Christian in a "socialist" nation.

In recent years, the Asian country has been repeatedly criticised by international organisations and foreign governments for violating religious freedom. Yet, in its relationship with priests and religious, the local Catholic community has found the strength to grow amid difficulties and limitations.

Humanity, spirituality, social service and pastoral issues related to the 'New Evangelisation' were at the centre of the annual meeting of Vietnamese priests, held in late April in the Diocese of Than Hoa, in the north of the country.

Some 477 priests from local dioceses attended the event organised to boost priestly vocations and invigorate the commitment by leaders to parish communities, which has special meaning in the Year of Faith proclaimed by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

Priests were asked to work closely with the laity, sharing each other's experiences of the mission and helping the consecrated and others to perform the duty of proclaiming the word of God given to every believer.

During his address, Mgr Nang also talked about his experience in Rome, where he was one of the Asian delegates to the Synod of Bishops held in October 2012.

Fr Pius Ngo Phuc Hau, native to southern Vietnam and active in a Mekong Delta parish, explained the significance of the mission among non-Catholic men and women, whom he still calls "brothers."

Bearing witness, he said, is fundamental for 'better mutual understanding "and as preparation to welcome Jesus.

At the end, bishops and priests present at the annual seminar reiterated the importance of the laity in the life of the Church and parishes as models of family life.

Mgr Leopoldo Girelli, the Vatican's non-permanent representative to Vietnam, was present at the Thanksgiving Mass held on 25 April. On that occasion, he spoke about sharing the Word of God and emphasised each individual's mission within the Church's universal character. Addressing the priests, he said to them, "You are the ministers of the Word of God for all."

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