01/26/2009, 00.00
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American bishops bring solidarity to archbishop of Hanoi

by J.B. An Dang
The visit is taking place in the context of the twinning of United States and Vietnamese dioceses. Bishop Todd Brown of Orange County, who is providing formation for four seminarians and wants to send priests to teach English, says, "please be assured of our prayers and support."

Hanoi (AsiaNews) - Solidarity and support for the bishop of Hanoi, Joseph Ngo Quang Kiet, and for his entire diocese have been expressed by a group of United States bishops visiting the capital. Archbishop George Niederauer of San Francisco, his auxiliary Ignatius Chung Wang, Bishop Todd Brown of Orange County, Bishop Dan Walsh of Santa Rosa, Fr. Jerry McCormick of Monterey, accompanied by some of the faithful, are the first foreign visitors to be able to meet with the archbishop of Hanoi following the conflict with the public authorities over the property of the former apostolic delegation and the parish of Thai Ha, which have seen the archbishop reduced almost to house arrest.

The visit of the United States bishops is part of an initiative for the twinning of some American and Vietnamese dioceses. So Orange County and Los Angeles are twinned with the diocese of Saigon, now known as Ho Chi Minh City. In the context of this fraternity, the diocese of Orange County has taken on the formation of four Vietnamese seminarians, and also wants to send some priests to Hanoi to teach English to future priests.

During their visit, the American bishops concelebrated Mass in the cathedral of St. Joseph (in the photo) together with Archbishop Kiet and hundreds of Vietnamese priests. During the ceremony, Bishop Brown, taking his cue from the feast of St. Agnes - a 13-year-old Roman girl who preferred to suffer martyrdom rather than renounce her faith - recalled that on this day, every year, two lambs are given to the pope, who blesses them. After they have grown, their wool is used to make the pallium, the little stole of white wool decorated with black crosses, which the pope gives to the archbishops as a sign of particular closeness. "That is the history of the pallium Archbishop Joseph Ngo Quang Kiet is wearing today." To those present, these words sounded like encouragement and solidarity for a bishop who does not accept injustice, even at the cost of personal suffering. "Please be assured," Bishop Brown concluded, "of our prayers and support."

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