Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) - Mgr Joseph Dinh Duc Dao has become a full bishop. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI had appointed him auxiliary bishop of Xuan Loc on the last day of his pontificate, 28 February. His ordination was held almost a week ago, on 5 April, in a ceremony that brought together a cardinal, 25 bishops, the non-resident papal representative Mgr Leopoldo Girelli, about 600 priests and more than 15,000 faithful. The event was a real celebration for the country's bishops, who had gathered at the Marian shrine in Bai Dau Vung Tau, southern Vietnam, on 1 -5 April for their first assembly of the year.
Titular Bishop Mgr Dominique Nguyen Chu Trinh led the ceremony, which began at 6 am at the Xuan Loc Episcopal Office, crowded with people on this occasion. On behalf of the faithful, he greeted and thanked Card Jean-Baptiste Pham Minh Man, archbishop of Saigon, the Vatican representative Mgr Girelli and his fellow bishops and priests.
Mgr Peter Nguyen Van Nhon, president of the Vietnamese Bishops' Council, welcomed with "emotion and happiness" the "new member" whose appointment was " Pope Benedict XVI's last act of benevolence towards the Church of Vietnam" before his Petrine ministry ended.
The prelate praised the "generosity and sacrifice" of the faithful of Xuan Loc, valuable contributors to the mission and organisation of events, as was the case in the last assembly of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences (FABC) in December.
As part of the celebrations, non-resident papal representative Mgr Leopoldo Girelli spoke about the Church in Vietnam, its situation and the directives Pope Francis issued in the first weeks of his ministry.
The Vatican diplomat praised Vietnamese Catholics who, inspired by a spirit of charity, love and service to others, have played a major role in their nation's development. He also encouraged all the dioceses to "support each other in a reciprocal way" in "proclaiming the Gospel in this Year of Faith".
Bishop Joseph Dinh Duc Dao was born 2 March 1945 in Thuc Hoa, Nam Dinh province, northern Vietnam. From 1961 to 1964, he studied at the St Francis Xavier Seminary in the diocese of Bui Chu, then moved to St Joseph Major Seminary in the former Saigon, where he spent the next two years. From 1965 to 1971, he studied in Rome, at the Pontifical Urban University, where he was ordained in 1971.
Over the years, the prelate has held many pastoral, academic and administrative positions. His last include the post of consultant for the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, president of the Xuan Loc Major Seminary (since 2009), and coordinator of the apostolate among Vietnamese in the Diaspora. He has also written numerous articles and essays devoted to missionary spirituality and the prospects for evangelisation in Africa.