08/08/2016, 13.48
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Phát Diệm, Caritas organises action against abortion, helps in typhoon emergency

by Bui Nguyen

The diocese has a high abortion rate, and was recently hit by a super typhoon. Caritas volunteers organised seminars and lectures to raise awareness among young people about the value of life and its protection. According to bishop, their “work is very difficult,” but they “have achieved important results”.

Phát Diệm (AsiaNews) – Caritas Vietnam organised three days of seminars and lectures in the Diocese of Phát Diệm in order to curb the high level of abortions and educate people to respect life.

From 2 to 4 August, the activities associated with the event involved young people from nine northern Vietnamese provinces in nine different projects. Caritas also took action to help flooded northern parishes deal with the effects of a super typhoon.

"The groups for the protection of life have held sessions and lectures to raise awareness among young people at risk,” said Fr John Đỗ Văn Khoa, head of Caritas Phát Diệm. “They organised catechism courses focused on marriage, counselling and assistance for girls and young women without a family."

Abortion is a rising problem in Vietnam, which ranks first in South-East Asia and fifth in the world for this practice. Each year more than 300,000 young people between 15 and 19 years have an abortion, often in clandestine manner.

The abortion rate among high school and university students can reach almost 70 per cent. In the capital Hanoi, the number is even greater and many girls and young women have several abortions, using it as a contraceptive method.

"In past years, we have had contacts with some government hospitals, and worked together with non-Catholic doctors who have supported us in our programmes,” said Teresa, one of the volunteers.

“We buried 12,000 fetuses, who were several weeks old, or even five or six months of life. Some children,” she noted, "were aborted even at eight months of life."

Mgr Joseph Nguyễn Năng, bishop of Phát Diệm, attended the three-day Caritas event. He urged young people to remember God’s mercy and congratulated the volunteers.

"Even if your work is very difficult, you have achieved important results. Many children were born thanks to you. Others were buried respecting their dignity as human beings."

Meanwhile, a super typhoon recently hit the Diocese of Phát Diệm destroying rice fields, fruit trees and homes. Mgr Joseph Nguyen Van Yen, vice president of the Caritas Episcopal Council, decided to donate funds to support the diocese.

Fr John Đỗ Văn Khoa and Caritas staff visited some of the worst affected parishes to help families, Catholic and non-Catholics, overcome the emergency.

Fr John Bùi Văn Ke is parish priest at Mỹ Thủy and is responsible for 2,400 faithful. "All the parishioners live near a swollen river,” he said, “and the water is halfway up the houses".

The river is very polluted and people no longer have drinking water. Priests and the Caritas members have found entire families dead or orphaned children.

Fr Ke decided to make children his priority "so that they are ready to go to school next year and live in the parish."

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