09/29/2023, 16.58
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Pope urges Vietnamese Catholics to be a light for everyone through charity

In a message to Viet Nam’s bishops, priests and faithful, the pontiff explains the meaning of the recent step forward in diplomatic relations with Hanoi with the opening of a permanent representation of the Holy See in the country, “seeking together the best way forward for the good of the Vietnamese people and the Church.” The pope urges Vietnamese Catholics to be "good Christians and good citizens", noting that religious freedom is a way “to foster dialogue and engender hope for the country”.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope wrote a Letter to Vietnamese Catholics, published today by the Vatican Press Office. In it, he urges them to be "good Christians and good citizens" by making the light of the Gospel shine through charity in their country.

The message follows closely the recent diplomatic breakthrough between the Vatican and Viet Nam, with the signing of an agreement that opens the way for a permanent representative of the Holy See in that country.

In Viet Nam, which suffered greatly in its recent past, this reflects “your courage in working, your tenacity in difficulties, your sense of family and the other natural virtues to which you bear witness.” Hence, “Let us give thanks to God with joy, for God’s love is eternal and faithful forever

Francis mentions the visit to the Vatican last 27 July by the President of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam, Võ Văn Thưởng, and the patient work carried out over the years by the joint Viet Nam-Holy See working group.

“On the basis of the reciprocal trust built up step by step over the years,” the two parties found convergences while “respecting differences.”

The two sides, “were able to walk together, listening to each other and arriving at a mutual understanding. Although each of them came from different backgrounds and experiences of life, it did not prevent them from seeking together the best way forward for the good of the Vietnamese people and the Church.”

The Vatican has never made a secret that it sees the evolution of relations with Viet Nam as a model for dialogue with the People's Republic of China.

In his letter to Vietnamese Catholics, Francis takes up the same call addressed to Christians in China he made earlier this month, during his apostolic journey to Mongolia.

Citing the Letter to Diognetus, a text dating from the 2nd century AD, Francis explains that “Christians, who are in the world but do not belong to the world, are marked by the practice of charity, implementing the Gospel in the heart of the nation and accompanying it in its efforts towards a balanced social and economic development.

“Consequently, the Catholic faithful, by building up the Church through shared pastoral cooperation, and by imbuing daily life with the message of the Gospel, live out their own identity as good Christians and good citizens. In this regard, the Catholic faithful can foster dialogue and engender hope for the country whenever conditions favourable to the exercise of religious freedom are implemented.”

For the pope, this hope in Viet Nam must be generated above all with “the concrete practice of charity”. This is why, “in all places and circumstances, Christians… are called to hear the cry of the poor”. 

“This spirit has always enlivened the Catholic community in your country and led it to offer its own positive and meaningful contribution in serving the people, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Highlighting participation in the life of the community, as indicated by the Vietnamese bishops for this pastoral year, Francis called for its realisation “through mutual love, sincere listening and acts of charity, shown also towards those who do not share the same faith, and in caring for the most vulnerable and most in need.”

Thus, Catholics can be the “light of the world and the salt of the earth,” in accordance with the teaching of Jesus.

“I ask God to enlighten and guide you, so that, in your lives and in your relations with the civil Authorities and with every person, without distinction of religion, race or culture, you may know how to bear witness to the love and charity of Jesus Christ, for the glory of God.”

“May Our Lady of La Vang accompany you and through her maternal intercession, may our merciful Father bless and grant abundant graces to the whole Catholic Church in Viet Nam, as well as the Nation and the beloved Vietnamese people.”

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Holy See and Viet Nam agree on a permanent Vatican representative in Ha Noi
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A pontifical representative in Hanoi in the ‘near future’
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