Hanoi (AsiaNews) - I am "a missionary; you seminarians are also missionaries; because the missionary’s nature is everyone’s vocation. Each of us needs to look at the signs of the times. In particular, we have to look at the example of the Holy Father, who has looked at the signs of the times to achieve his mission, which is to serve the Church,” said Card Reinhard Marx, president of the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Community.
The bishop is on a pastoral visit to Vietnam called ‘Support for the local Church’ (Stärkung der Ortskirche in German) until 17 January. During his stay, the prelate will have the opportunity of meeting members of the local Church.
Last Saturday, the cardinal celebrated Mass at the Faculty of Theology of the Major Seminary of St Joseph in Hanoi with 100 seminarians, the Archbishop of Hanoi Card Nguyen Van Nhơn and Mgr Cosma Hoang Van Djat, general secretary of the Vietnamese bishops' conference.
"Today,” said the secretary of the German Bishops' Conference, “we look to Jesus. He accompanies us and is with each of us. He also identifies with the poor and with sinners. Despite this assimilation, the Father has confirmed that he is his Son. For this reason, we must take responsibility for everyone, especially the poor.”
On Monday, Card Marx visited Tam Đảo parish in the Diocese of Bắc Ninh, north-east of Hanoi. Here, the bishop celebrated Mass in Latin at the Tam Đảo pilgrimage centre together with the local bishop, as well as more than 4,000 worshippers and 500 leaders of the diocese’s Eucharistic Children’s Society.
The Diocese of Bắc Ninh was established 100 years ago and currently has 56 priests in 81 parishes, with 125,000 faithful.
Yesterday was devoted to a meeting with local youth. “Christ,” he said, "is the gift that came from the Father's mercy. Thanks to the event of Jesus' baptism, each of us (whether he lives in Germany or in Vietnam) enjoys God’s eternal gift."
In the coming days, the cardinal will travel to Ho Chi Minh City, where he will visit the headquarters of Caritas Vietnam and the convent of the Sisters of the Holy Cross Lovers in Thu Thiem.
Last October, the sisters were able to block the demolition of a school they run, which the government had decided to tear down. This was a small victory against the ongoing practice by the authorities to seize assets that belong to religious congregations.
The Diocese of Vinh, in the Mekong Delta, will be another stage in the pastoral visit. Here, Card Marx will meet Mgr Paul Nguyễn Thái hop, president of the local Council of justice and peace. In addition, he will have a moment of prayer at the Shrine of St Anthony of Padua, one of the most visited pilgrimage sites in Vietnam.
Card Marx’s presence in Vietnam is a sign of the Church’s closeness to Vietnamese Catholics whose faith and faith-based activities are hindered by a government that often denies religious freedom.
For some Catholic intellectuals and students, "Card Marx’s visit to Vietnam is an opportunity for the two churches (the Vietnamese and German) on the two continents to develop greater mutual understanding and closeness. This pastoral visit is a milestone and will help us in the work of evangelisation."