2010 Rome pilgrimage at the centre of Vietnamese bishops’ meeting
by JB. VU
Vietnam’s Episcopal Council is preparing the visit to mark the 350th anniversary of the creation of the country’s first two apostolic vicariates and the 50th anniversary of the Catholic Hierarchy in the country. Discussions will also touch the issue of social communications.
Vung Tau (AsiaNews) – Preparations for the pilgrimage to Rome next year to mark the 350th anniversary of the establishment of Vietnam’s first two apostolic vicariates and the 50th  anniversary of the country’s Catholic Church Hierarchy were discussed at the first annual meeting of the Episcopal Council of Vietnam currently underway. The event is scheduled to last from 13 to 18 April. Some 44 bishops and priests began the meeting on Monday evening in Bai Dau – Vung Tau Town, diocese of Ba Ria, divided among the 15 committees of the Episcopal Council.

In addition to the pilgrimage participants will discuss social communications, including the Council’s website. Indeed Mgr Nguyen Van De, who heads the Social Communication Committee, stressed the importance of such modern means of communication for the Church and its task of announcing the Good News.

A sign of hope came from the words of the chairman the Episcopal Council, Mgr Peter Nguyen Van Nhon, who in his opening address said that through “God’s Grace and the Church’s pastors [. . .] we can move forward in hope, despite the difficulties and challenges we have had to deal with.”

Preparations for the Jubilee of the Vietnamese Church are at the centre of the meeting, which is not just an event but also an opportunity for the Church to look forward to its development.

In a letter to Card Jean Baptiste Pham Minh Man and all the bishops, dated 19 March of this year, Mgr Van Nhon looked back on the early days of the Church in Vietnam.

“On 9 September 1679 the Holy Father Alexander VII, 125 years after the Vietnamese people received the Good News from the missionaries, created the vicariates of Dang Trong and Dang Ngoai (in the north and the south). At that time the Vietnamese Church was persecuted, and many lay people lost their lives to announce our faith.”

“On 24 November1960,” the letter said, “John XXIII set up the Catholic Hierarchy in Vietnam with three archdiocese and 20 dioceses, including the three new diocese of My Tho, Da Lat and Long Xuyen. Step by step our Church saw other dioceses established: Da Nang (18 January 1963), Phu Cuong – Xuan Lộc (14 October 1965), Ban Me Thuot (22 June 1967), Phan Thiet (1 January 1975) and Ba Ria (20 November 2005). Now we have 26 dioceses serving Vietnam’s eight million of Catholics.”