07/08/2008, 00.00
Send to a friend

Youngest Vietnamese bishop to guide country's youth to WYD in Sydney

by Nguyen Hung
Only 200 Vietnamese out of 900 have received visas for Australia. Others were rejected because of immigration fears. At WYD, the Vietnamese will be able to testify to a faith lived out amid many difficulties, including those of poverty, misery, and illiteracy.

Lang Son (AsiaNews) - At the head of the young Vietnamese going to Sydney is the youngest Vietnamese bishop, from one of the country's poorest dioceses.

Bishop Joseph Dang Duc Ngan, originally from Hanoi, was born in 1957, and has been bishop of Lang Son since December 3, 2007. Speaking to AsiaNews before his departure for World Youth Day, he said that "the meeting in Sydney is a great opportunity for young Vietnamese to deepen their Christian faith in a more consistent and organised way. Thanks to this event, young people can make a pilgrimage of faith, meet one another, and experience the love of God". The bishop also expressed his disappointment that out of 900 young Vietnamese who asked for visas for Australia, only 200 of them received these. The others were rejected out of fear that they might remain in the country.

The bishop and the young people of Vietnam will be able to offer their own experience to the other participants at WYD: their living out of the faith in difficult situations and in poverty.

The diocese of Lang Son, for example, with 6,200 Catholics of a population of more than 1 million, is among the poorest in Vietnam. It is near the Chinese border, in an area stricken by war (within Vietnam, and between Vietnam and China). Because of this, many churches have been destroyed.

Most of the population belongs to tribal groups (hill people). Their standard of living is extremely low; many families live below the poverty level, surviving on what they can get from the forest or practicing subsistence farming.

Pastoral and social work for development go hand in hand. A sister recounts to AsiaNews: "We usually visit people in poor communities and remote parishes of the diocese. Because of the families' poverty, their children have no opportunity to go to school. Part of the reason is that they live very far from the schools, and also their children have to drop out early to earn money and support the family".

Thanks to some projects launched by the diocese, there are catechesis groups, but also projects for development to overcome poverty and illiteracy. But the parishes lack personnel, teachers, doctors, and volunteers. The government, which is always suspicious toward the hill people, does not facilitate either social or religious outreach.

Send to a friend
Printable version
See also
Mel Gibson's 'Passion' at the next World Youth Day?
Media registration for WYD begin
Some 500 Indian youth WYD bound
The new Pentecost of young people in Sydney
Pope: SMS to young people of Sydney, who respond


Subscribe to Asia News updates or change your preferences

Subscribe now
“L’Asia: ecco il nostro comune compito per il terzo millennio!” - Giovanni Paolo II, da “Alzatevi, andiamo”