11/12/2013, 00.00
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Bishops' president: Church of Vietnam ever more Catholic and missionary

Bishops' Conference president lays down pastoral guidelines during a meeting with the country's main religious congregations, stressing the values of "poverty" and being "of everyone and for everyone." Inculturation and a renewed commitment to proclaim the Gospel are also emphasised.

Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) - The Church has to be "of the poor and for the poor" as well as "of everyone and for everyone" if it wants to fulfil the meaning of the word 'Catholic', proclaim the Gospel, contribute to society and "renew our lives".

Mgr Paul Bui Van Doc, president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Vietnam (CBCV) and new coadjutor bishop of the Archdiocese of Ho Chi Minh City, laid down these guidelines and basic principles in order to inform the future pastoral work of the Church.

This was done at a meeting that brought together several prelates and the leaders of the country's main religious congregations on 5 November at the Salesian monastery in Duc Trong, in the Diocese of Dalat, in the southern part of the Central Highlands.

The final statement, published by Église d'Asie (EDA), constitutes the "pastoral orientation of the Church of Christ" for the future, and can be accessed at the Facebook page of the Vietnamese Bishops' Conference.

The message the CBCV president sent to the country's congregations and religious communities reiterates what the Conference said last month at the end of its General Assembly. Its goal is to focus on the 'new evangelisation" centred on the family, parishes and religious movements, without neglecting society as a whole.

For Mgr Paul, emphasis must be placed on certain points, namely the Church's universality and its rootedness in Vietnam, the values ​​of poverty and simplicity with a reference to the Second Vatican Council as well as post-conciliar directives, "in particular those of Pope Francis."

"The Church of Jesus was born among the poor," the coadjutor bishop of Saigon said. For this reason, "it must make its voice heard" as well as "share" the life and suffering of the oppressed and the persecuted, the prelate said, in order to "provide help" when they need it. Hence, it is necessary that "the Church itself" and its men be first of all "poor".

For Bishop Paul, the Church needs to be universal so that "it us of everyone and for everyone." The Church, he explained, "does not belong to individuals or elites but to the people of God."

It looks to everyone, "even those who do not yet believe". For this reason, it is "absolutely necessary to engage everyone in dialogue" for, he added, "This is what Christ himself indicated".

For the Bishops' president, the Church must renew its commitment "to proclaiming the Gospel," which now more than ever is the task of Vietnamese themselves after centuries of foreign missionary presence.

"The Church in Vietnam has not yet fully grasped this task," the coadjutor bishop of Saigon said. From this follows a need for a "bold breakthrough" that goes in the direction of a "true missionary pastoral message" based on renewed ardour, methods and expression. In this sense, he noted, the Word of God should be reviewed in terms of its inculturation and the way it is proclaimed.

This dual path leads to "bringing the Gospel into a culture" as well as "introducing the [local] culture in proclaiming the Gospel" to facilitate understanding by a "multicultural and multi-ethnic" Vietnamese people.

Finally, the president of the Vietnamese bishops noted the contribution "of the Church in building society", not as a charitable and philanthropic association, but rather through the "social dimension of the Gospel," to which must be added the need to "renew our lives and the way we act," intensifying prayer by addressing secularist excesses.

"We are aware of our duty to bring the light of Christ, the light of faith to social life," the prelate said. However, he warned, "In the life of the Church we are used to include, not exclude. We must do something without necessarily excluding others; we must worry about some people, i.e. the poor, without forgetting the others."

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