02/18/2010, 00.00
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Lent, a time to address the crisis of truth and solidarity in Vietnamese society

by Thanh Thuy
The bishop of Vinh Long proposes a path, based on the knowledge that the crisis of truth in a materialist society is especially due to the crisis of the values of the people. People are concerned about material gain, exploiting and dominating others. The crisis of cultural values and morality affects communities, social institutions and families.
Vinh Long (AsiaNews) – Lent is a time to address “the crisis of truth and solidarity” that runs through Vietnam’s materialist society, which is losing its traditional values, Mgr Joseph Nguyen Xuan Tieu, bishop of Vinh Long, said as he spoke to the faithful at this moment of conversion.

Vinh Long Diocese covers four provinces in the Mekong River Delta region: Vinh Long, Tra Vinh, Ben Tre and the city of Sadec in Dong Thap province. It is home to 178.150 Catholics out of a total population of 4,162,100 inhabitants.

The delta, also known as the Southern Plains, is a densely populated area. A rice-growing region, the General Statistics Office of Viet Nam ranks it third among the country’s seven regions. About 23 per cent of people live below the poverty line.

Local Churches have a number of difficulties, including that of evangelisation, because “whilst rice fields are full, few are able to reap it.”

In today’s society, Christians must “spread the Good News to everyone.” It is the path of reconciliation, a penitential attitude of respect for the truth and love towards everyone.

Bishop Thieu made this point as he stressed that “one of the five goals of the Jubilee Year of the Vietanmese Church is to boost the spirit of reconciliation and repentance, pointing towards the spiritual and pastoral path that shows that our local churches are going back to preach the Gospel to reach everyone.”

“You know,” the bishop said, “that in the context of today’s society, in both general terms as well as it specifically applies to the people of Vietnam, including in the Mekong River Delta, we are facing a crisis of truth and solidarity. The crisis of truth in a materialist society is especially a crisis of the values of the people. Thus, society is losing its humanity and spiritual life. People are worried only about material gain as well as exploiting and dominating others. The crisis of cultural values and morality affects our communities, social institutions, and families.”

Given the situation and following a tradition associated with the New Lunar Year, some parishes have recently organised Hai Loc (picking young buds or leaves and putting them in good luck bags).

“I was inspired by a passage in Luke that says, ‘You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself’, Van told AsiaNews.

“In my family, we had many problems and conflicts with one another. During Lent and the Jubilee, the Word of God shall help us change our attitudes and lifestyle.”

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