07/04/2013, 00.00
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Vietnamese Catholics celebrate Card. Văn Thuận, future blessed

by Thanh Thuy
The diocesan phase of the beatification process has closed. Tomorrow Mass presided by Cardinal Vicar of Rome Agostino Vallini. At home prayers and celebrations in his memory. Catholic families pass on the heroic deeds of the cardinal to their children.

Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) - Tomorrow July 5, the Vietnamese Church will celebrate the closing of the diocesan process of beatification of Card. Francis Xavier Nguyễn Văn Thuận, icon of the Asian Church with his testimony of faith, in the midst of suffering and persecution. Now the cause of the cardinal and the servant of God will begin a new and special iter, the so-called "Roman phase" at the Vatican Congregation for the Cause of Saints. The Mass celebrated by Cardinal Agostino Vallini - vicar of the diocese of Rome - will mark the handover of the work of a process that began October 22, 2010, five years after the death of former coadjutor of the Archdiocese of Ho Chi Minh City.

This day of celebration is an occasion of joy and pride for Vietnamese Catholics from around the world, eager to read about a man of virtue and faith - before even being a pastor - who was able to patiently endure captivity under the Communist regime. In families it has become a tradition to tell the children about the heroic deeds of a priest already revered as a saint and symbol of the Christian faith.

A Filipino brother, on a mission in Vietnam, describes Cardinal Van Thuan to AsiaNews, as a person who was "simple, kind and compassionate with everyone. I've heard stories about him similar to fairy tales, but they are real and known throughout the country."

Cardinal François-Xavier Nguyễn Văn Thuận was born April 17, 1928, in central Vietnam, to a family that had the first Vietnamese martyrs of 1698 among its ancestors; he entered the minor seminary in An Ninh and then the major seminary of Phu Xuan. Sent to Rome to continue his studies, he graduated in Canon Law at the Pontifical Urbanianum University. On returning to Vietnam he was first a professor and then rector of the Hue seminary, the diocese where he became vicar general in 1964. On 24 April 1975, Paul VI appointed him coadjutor of the Archdiocese of Saigon. A few months later, on 15 August 1975 he was arrested and imprisoned. He was released on 21 November 1988. Called to Rome in 1991 by Pope John Paul II, he was vice president and then president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. In those years, the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church was drafted. Created cardinal in 2000, he died on 16 September 2002 after a long illness.

The process of canonization was launched in October 2010. The postulator of the cause Waldery Hilgeman explains that the cardinal "visited many parts of the world" and for this reason the process is "just as vast". The committee in charge of the work of beatification and canonization has traveled long distances to Australia, France, USA, and Germany. At least 130 people were interviewed, while at home people have been tirelessly praying to the 118 Vietnamese martyrs for the cause to have a successful outcome. And tomorrow they will be able to celebrate, because no one can threaten their faith and right to religious freedom.


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