Card. Pham Minh Man invites Asian cardinals to Vietnam
by Thanh Thao

The archbishop of Ho Chi Minh City intends to meet the cardinals of Japan, Thailand, India, Korea and the Philippines in December. The social commitment, difficulties and needs of the Vietnamese Church.

Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) – Just as the government of Vietnam is opening its doors to a market economy, the country's Church is planning to do the same with other Asian Catholic communities, all facing some sort of domestic difficulties. The intention was made by Cardinal Pham Minh Man, archbishop of Ho Chi Minh City, as he invited the cardinals of Japan, Thailand, India, Korea and the Philippines to go to Vietnam in early December.

Pham Minh Man also called on the Jesuits to gather material and to organise a workshop about their mission in Vietnam. He talked about current difficulties facing the Church in the country.

"The Jesuits have long undertaken significant pastoral and social work among children and the poor," said the cardinal. "But there is need to do more. Today, there are many difficulties because the government still refuses to allow us to become involved in social activities: we can only open kindergartens."

The cardinal said the main problem was a lack of personnel and centres to cater for people with HIV/AIDS in Ho Chi Minh City, home to over 40,000 infected people.

"We have to give priority for the poorest of the poor and give young people a good example, encouraging them to live according to God's word. I am also mobilizing to raise awareness among the Catholic community to become involved in social work."

Interviewed by AsiaNews, a Vietnamese social worker said a social work meeting had been held at the archdiocesan cultural centre for 200 people. He said: "For now, the diocese has 12 youth working as volunteers to assess the best way to help children with special needs in three districts." A lay person from the parish of Chi Hoa said: "We all want to participate in social activities; we want to apply our knowledge of theory in practice. In Vietnam, social and charity work are largely based on Catholic humanitarian values."