04/11/2024, 15.10
Send to a friend

Archbishop Gallagher in Hanoi among the 'living stones' of the Vietnamese Church

The Vatican Secretary for Relations with States presides over Mass in the cathedral, the focal point of this historic trip for the local Church since the breaking of diplomatic relations between Hanoi and the Vatican in 1975. In the meeting with the foreign minister, the hope of 'reaching other important goals' among them, Pope Francis' visit.

Hanoi (AsiaNews) - The Church in Vietnam is one of "living stones" whose witness "is deeply touching", reflected Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Vatican Secretary for Relations with States, addressing the faithful present at the Mass he presided over yesterday afternoon in St Joseph's Cathedral in Hanoi.

The celebration was the first moment of encounter with the local Catholic community on this historic occassion of the first visit by the Holy See's 'foreign minister' to Vietnam since the interruption of formal diplomatic relations in 1975.

There is great expectation surrounding this trip, which follows the important steps forward taken in recent years in relations between Hanoi and the Vatican. And in the background there is also the possibility of an apostolic journey to Vietnam, about which Pope Francis himself has spoken and for which the local authorities have already issued an invitation.

But Archbishop Gallagher's visit is in itself a moment of great importance for the 7 million Catholics living in Vietnam. And the Eucharistic celebrations marking the days of this trip are proving it.

Many lay people were present yesterday along with priests, religious and bishops at the rite that the English prelate presided over, bringing the pope's blessing and closeness. With him at the altar were Msgr. Joseph Vu Van Thien, archbishop of Hanoi, Msgr. Marek Zalewski, resident representative of the Holy See in Vietnam since last December, and Vietnamese Cardinal Peter Nguyen Van Nhon, archbishop emeritus of the capital.

In his address of greeting to Archbishop Gallagher, Archbishop Vu Van Thien said he was convinced that this visit would have a positive impact on the faith life of the local Catholic community and open a new chapter in relations between the two countries.

In his homily, then, the Bishop of Bac Ninh, Bishop Joseph Do Quang Khang, emphasised that through Bishop Gallagher, it is the pope himself who is present in Vietnam with a mission that is not only diplomatic, but has at its centre the truth that 'God loves the world'.

And recalling the letter that Francis sent a few months ago to Vietnamese Catholics, he said that the agreement with the Hanoi government on the status of the Holy See's resident representative is an effort to "exercise charity as the measure of faith and take faith as the soul of all charitable activities".

Msgr. Gallagher arrived in Hanoi on Tuesday, 9 April and on the same day he met his counterpart, Vietnamese Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son.

According to the official communiqué released by the Vietnamese authorities, during the meeting, Minister Son expressed his "desire that the Vietnamese Catholic community continue to contribute positively to the country's development and prosperity," praising "the positive progress" made in relations between Vietnam and the Vatican in recent times, which led to the arrival in Hanoi of Bishop Marek Zalewski. He promised that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, together with the relevant agencies, "will create the conditions for him to carry out his mission".

Archbishop Gallagher, for his part, expressed his joy at witnessing the development of the Catholic Church in Vietnam, trusting that "the Vietnamese Catholic community will be able to make an even greater contribution to the country's development".

The Vatican Secretary for Relations with States also called for the strengthening of cooperation between the two sides, through the mechanism of the Vietnam-Vatican Joint Working Group and in multilateral and international forums, saying he was confident that "bilateral relations will continue to achieve important goals". Yesterday, Archbishop Gallagher also had a meeting with the Vietnamese Prime Minister, Phạm Minh Chính.

This morning, however, the prelate visited the National Children Hospital, the large paediatric hospital in Hanoi, which since 2005 has had a collaboration programme with the Bambino Gesù Hospital in Rome, the large children's health facility promoted by the Holy See.

This is one of the many examples of the Catholic community's contribution to the country. Archbishop Gallagher expressed his joy at the fruits of this initiative of solidarity between health facilities. He also distributed gifts to some children admitted to the facility. After the hospital, he made a stop at the Vietnamese Ethnological Museum, paying homage to the very ancient history and culture of this country.

In the coming days, the journey of Pope Francis' representative will continue with other meetings with communities in the other provinces of Vietnam. Tomorrow he will be in the diocese of Hue where he will be at the national Marian shrine of La Vang; on Friday 13th, he will preside over another Eucharistic celebration in the cathedral of Saigon, the great metropolis that today bears the name of Ho Chi Minh. Here he is also scheduled to meet with the entire Vietnamese Bishops' Conference before returning to Rome.

Send to a friend
Printable version
See also
Vietnamese Communist Party delegation meets with Pope Francis
18/01/2024 18:03
Pope talks about the Middle East, the Holy Land and the food crisis with Bush
Vietnam’s diplomacy on the move between China and the Vatican
09/04/2024 15:23
It is ‘absolute necessary’ for direct talks between Israelis and Palestinians to resume
04/11/2021 16:32
The world’s Catholic bishops rejoice that immoral atomic bombs are finally illegal
23/01/2021 16:20


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”