At least 3 thousand faithful came from Vietnam; another 7,000 are migrants in Thailand. Happiness: is seeing the Pope "at least once in a lifetime". In Thailand, with 1% of Christians, there were two papal visits; in Vietnam, with 10% of Catholics, no visits. "The Vietnamese Church has proposed to invite the pontiff many times, but the official invitation must come from the government."
Hanoi (AsiaNews) - At least 10 thousand Vietnamese faithful participated in the Masses celebrated by Pope Francis in Bangkok. Of these, 7 thousand live as migrants in Thailand; another 3 thousand have arrived there as pilgrims, to have "at least once in their life" - as Mr. N. says - the possibility of meeting the pastor of the universal Church. The question of the faithful and bishops is: When will he come to Vietnam?
Speaking to the Vietnamese BBC (Tiếng Việt BBC), Maria Lê Thị Hồng explains: “Two months ago, when we received the information that the Holy Father is going to Visit Thailand. Our diocese planned to go to Bangkok- Thailand. We, some groups of faithful, also planned for this pilgrimage. We are very happy. This is also an opportunity for us to come to Thailand. This is the first time that I come here. When coming here, I have recognized that this is a modern and busy city. But the most meaningful thing for me is to attend the Mass that was presided by the Holy Father Francis."
On November 21, thousands of Vietnamese faithful attended mass at the National Stadium in Bangkok (photo 2). The day before, many pilgrims from Vietnam attended the Mass held at Don Bosco Church, presided over by the Archbishop of Hue, Msgr. Joseph Nguyễn Chí Linh.
All of them weigh and consider: in Thailand, a country near Vietnam, where Christians are only 1%, there were two papal visits (that of Francis in these days; that of John Paul II in 1984); in Vietnam, where Catholics are 10% of the population, there has never been a pope.
Maria Lê Thị Hồng comments: "We always wonder why no pope ever visited Vietnam. In any case, I hope that next time we will be able to welcome the Holy Father to our homeland ". Many faithful added. "We hope the Pope can visit Vietnam as soon as possible." But the realization of this desire is not in the hands of the faithful.
Msgr. Paul Nguyễn Thái Hợp, bishop of Hà Tĩnh, explains: "It is not that the Pope does not want to come to Vietnam: there are social and political reasons. It is not allowed by the government to visit our nation. The Vietnamese Church has many times proposed inviting the pontiff, but the official invitation must come from the government ".
Msgr. Joseph Nguyễn Chí Linh, who is president of the Vietnamese Bishops' Conference, adds: "When Vietnamese Catholics feel that the Pope has visited some Asian nations such as Thailand, South Korea, Japan, the Philippines, everyone dreams that the pontiff may visit Vietnam. But Vietnamese political institutions are not like those in other countries. We cultivate aspirations, give suggestions, raise opinions. But in the end it is the Vietnamese government that must invite the pontiff. When? We do not know".
Photos: Eunice Novio