04/28/2014, 00.00
VIETNAM - VATICAN
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Vietnam, Catholics and Communists celebrate St John Paul II, "the Angel of Christians"

by Trung Tin
The Polish Pope is loved and admired by Christians and non-believers. A parishioner in Saigon praises his ability to "forgive and love". Others stress his deep " humility". Respect and admiration even from atheist intellectuals. Hanoi Professor he was a "messenger of peace" throughout the world.

Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews ) - Thousands of Vietnamese Catholics watched the Canonization Mass of the two Pope Saints - John XXIII and John Paul II - celebrated yesterday at St. Peter's in Rome in front of hundreds of thousands of faithful . And in the days leading up to the event , in many parts of the country (particularly in Ho Chi Minh City in the south, the traditional birthplace of Christianity in the Asian nation) prayer meetings and liturgies were held. For example, more than 1,400 people gathered Saturday, April 26 in Caritas Saigon to pay tribute to their second patron Saint, Pope John Paul II , taking part in a solemn thanksgiving Mass in the parish church of Đồng Tien. During the celebration the virtues and witness of St. John Paul II were recalled as he was raised to the Altars of the Saints along with Pope John XXIII .

"Thanks to this event" Mr. Louis tells AsiaNews , " I learned a lot more about the life of John Paul II, who knew how to love everyone". And even in the most difficult situation, he adds, " he was always able to forgive and to love. He visited many nations, without ever getting tired".

Another faithful from the Caritas group, Mr. Joseph adds that he learned a lot "from the virtues of St. John Paul II: to do charitable work for everyone, to love God and neighbor". He says he does not fear losing "worldly goods or social prestige, in exchange for a lie " because "following the word of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit I feel protected".  Instead Jean Baptiste  was struck by the profound "humility" of the Polish pope, the highest representative of the Catholic Church "to apologize to our older brothers [Jews] in the Middle East ."

Even non-Catholics have been won over by devotion and admiration for St. John Paul II, as pointed out by prof. Trần Xuân Ngọc, lecturer at the communist state university in Hanoi, who wrote in his Facebook page : "A personality that belongs to the world, a messenger of peace, and the Angel of Christians". Kaing Khemara , a teacher belonging to ethnic minorities, describes the Polish Pontiff as their "idol, who has done many good things for the world". Mr. Truong Duc Hải, a native of the province of Nam Dinh who moved to Ho Chi Minh City in search of work, says he is not Catholic, but stresses that "everybody loves him".

During Mass, the new archbishop of Saigon Msgr. Paul Bui Van Đọc distributed 548 certificates of registration to various charities in the various parishes, who have completed the training course and are now qualified to work across the territory in various activities . At the end of the function the faithful chanted a song, written and dedicated to St. John Paul II, entitled "The signs of his passage".

Hundreds of thousands of faithful, 122 delegations from around the world , two billion people connected via TV and radio participated in the canonization of Pope John XXIII and John Paul II. The concelebrants included Benedict XVI who was greeted and embraced warmly by Pope Francis before the ceremony and again at the end. During his homily, Pope Francis spoke of his predecessors describing them as "priests, bishops and popes of the twentieth century. They lived through the tragic events of that century, but they were not overwhelmed by them. For them, God was more powerful."

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