Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews/EDA) - Vietnam may soon have a new saint; the Congregation for the Causes of Saints has given the green light to the opening of the canonization process of Father Francis-Xavier Truong Buu Diep; the Vietnamese priest died a hero in 1946, during the first Vietnamese War, in the extreme effort to save the lives of his parishioners. The Vatican Dicastery informed the bishop of Cân Tho of the clearance (Nihil Obstat) on 31 October, but the news has only been announced in the last couple of days.
The news was greeted with joy by the faithful of the diocese and by many pilgrims - both Christians and of other religions - who have come from all over the country to pray at the tomb of the Vietnamese priest who has been buried for decades in the Church of Tac Say, in the Diocese of Southern Cân Tho.
The Vietnamese Bishops' Conference has been calling forcefully for the opening of the canonization dossier, after having launched the proposal during its first annual meeting in 2012, held from 9 to 13 April in the Diocese of Xuan Loc.
Amongst those who have a special veneration for the priest and martyr is also Cardinal Jean-Baptiste Pham Minh Mân, Archbishop Emeritus of Ho Chi Minh City, who knew him when he was eight years old. In the forefront of advocacy for the cause of canonization, the Cardinal points out that Father Truong Buu Diep "was a holy priest, always concerned about the future of the Church and ready to encourage the faithful to commit themselves deeply to their religion." Wherever he went, the Cardinal continued, "he undertook to set up a place of worship and to build houses for the faithful. He lived and died for them."
Father Diep was born in 1897 in a village in the southwest of Vietnam, in the province of An Giang, which at the time was part of the Apostolic Vicariate of Phnom Penh, which is where he later completed his studies at the Major Seminary. His priestly ordination took place in the Cambodian capital in 1924. From 1930 he was assigned to the Parish of Tac Say, where he continued to work until his death by martyrdom. When the Vietminh arrived in the area, many priests decided to leave, but he chose to stay close to his faithful. He was arrested on 12 March 1946 along with 60 parishioners. He offered his own life in sacrifice in exchange for their release.