08/07/2010, 00.00
VIETNAM
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Priests in Vietnam, tireless witnesses in a socialist society

by J. B. Vu
Over 3700 and their number is growing. But concerns remain over for seminary formation and falling victim to ideals of wealth and power .

Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) - To date over 3700 priests are in active parishes throughout Vietnam and their number is growing. Despite this, many believers complain about the poor formation of the priests, who are overly influenced by the models imposed by society

During the hardest years of communism Vietnamese Catholics suffered hardships and discrimination. Only through the efforts of the priests have they kept alive the meaning of Christian mission in society.

Today, despite improved conditions of religious freedom, faithful and older priests say that many seminarians and young priests are adjusting to the lifestyle of the world, choosing wealth and power over the good of the Church.  

"I have been teaching in seminaries and Catholic universities for many years - says Fr Jean Baptiste, a professor at St. Joseph Major Seminary in Ho Chi Minh City - but sadly I noticed that today they tell terrible lies in seminaries.  The men who attend them are prey to same pitfalls in life that exist in society and families". "Our Church – he added - should worry about this situation."

A young priest of the diocese of Xuan Loc (Ho Chi Minh City), says that "Over the past 35 years new models imposed by society have created many problems for the Church of South Vietnam. Today it is very difficult to find prepared priests who meet the expectations of the Church and the faithful.

The temptations of the new capitalist ideal of government, have however, failed to stop the mission of the Vietnamese Church. Despite the restrictions and controls imposed by the socialist regime many priests work among the peasants in the countryside and new business centres in the cities, the place of work for tens of thousands of Catholics.

The Year for Priests launched in 2009 by Benedict XVI, was an opportunity for priests and faithful to reacquaint themselves with their true identity which is to bring the Good News to all members of the socialist society.

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