A Mass was celebrated in Vinh, but Mgr Girelli was not allowed to lead the service. Still, "love always leads us to victory. It is the reality that is needed to build our future in a climate of peace."
Hanoi (AsiaNews) – "Love is never defeated" but "always leads us to victory: love God, love Asia, love your country" is the reality that Fr Jean-Baptiste Malo experienced.
The missionary victim of a "bloodless" martyrdom was remembered on 16 February in Vĩnh Hội parish, Ngan Sau district, diocese of Vinh. Non-resident Nuncio Mgr Leopoldo Girelli took part in the ceremony but did not lead it because the authorities did not authorise him.
Bishops Phaolô Nguyễn Thái Hợp and Phêrô Nguyễn Văn Viên (both from the diocese of Vinh) and Bishop Emeritus Micae Hoàng Đức Oanh celebrated the service along with almost a hundred priests before thousands of worshippers. Representatives of the French Embassy and the postulation for the beatification of Fr Jean-Baptiste Malo were also present.
Mgr Nguyễn Thái Hợp, auxiliary bishop of Vinh, noted what Mgr Girelli did for the ecclesial communities of the diocese of Vinh. In a letter to the people of God he said, "Today is a very special, a very important occasion,” the latter said. “I wanted a lot to be here to pray with you. Unfortunately, the authorities have not allowed me even though I was in Vinh" diocese.
"Father Malo was a missionary with the Foreign Missions of Paris, a citizen of noble France and a beloved child of the French Catholic Church. He loved Asia very much. He left his country to go to China where he spent 18 years during which he proclaimed the Gospel of Jesus Christ and helped the poor."
"When he was expelled from China, he did not leave the Asian continent, but went to Laos where he lived for 16 months in extremely difficult circumstances. He always loved Asia and Indochina."
“Father Malo was a missionary, a messenger of Jesus Christ. Like all other messengers, he led a nomadic life for the sake of evangelisation. It is significant that he died on a road from exhaustion in a long and tragic journey to the diocese of Vinh.”
“He died of exhaustion. His death was not caused by an act of violence. He did not shed blood like other martyrs, but no blood circulating in his body: we can say that his was a bloodless martyrdom."
Father Malo was buried on a bank of the Ngàn Sau River where his “death became a major spring for many Christians, like the river that irrigates the fertile lands of Hà Tĩnh province."
"His love for Asia, missionary trips and martyrdom left us an example of obedience to God's will and of the power of faith to bear witness to Jesus Christ and uphold Christian values for the difficult situation of today's society."
"God has his own plan for the Church in Vietnam, but he needs cooperation. The future of the Church in Vietnam is up to you and your faith. I realise that you face many challenges. Your fidelity to Christian principles is challenged in many ways, including secularisation and the limits to religious freedom"; yet, "love always brings us victory. It is the reality that is needed to build our future in a climate of peace."