06/11/2011, 00.00
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Vatican representative travels to Vietnam to support local Catholics

by J.B. Vu
In his second trip to Vietnam, Mgr Girelli tours some of the remotest dioceses in the country to show the faithful the pope’s closeness. During his visit, which is set to end on 18 June, he is urging young Catholics to spread the ideals of the Gospel.
Hanoi (AsiaNews) – The purpose of Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli’s second visit to Vietnam is to demonstrate the Holy Father’s closeness to Vietnamese Catholics and spread the love for Evangelical values among the young. Mgr Girelli is the first representative of the Holy See to the Communist nation.

The archbishop arrived in the Vietnamese capital on 5 June and will stay in the country until 18 June. His visit includes stays in the Diocese of Hanoi as well as the dioceses of Bac Ninh, Lang Son, Hai Phong, Bui Chu and Thai Binh.

His visit on Thursday to the Diocese of Lang Son-Cao Bang, on the border with China, was especially important. On that occasion, he met with priests, religious, seminarians and members of the laity in parishes located in tribal areas.

In this region, Christians are often victims of abuse by the authorities, who are interested in the region’s mineral wealth.

“The Holy Father did not forget you,” he said. “Even if you are a small community, remote from Rome, you hold a big place in the pope’s heart. I have come to bear witness to his closeness.”

Speaking a few days ago to more than thousand students in Bac Ninh Diocese, the prelate stressed the great value of the Youth Assembly scheduled to take place in Hanoi Diocese on 11 November.

“Through such an event, you can express your desire to spread the Gospel and make your generation better,” Mgr Girelli said.

He told young people to ask themselves “What can I do for God? How can I help my country promote peace, justice and love?” He also urged them to reflect upon the issues that will be discussed at the upcoming assembly, whose main theme is “You are my friends”.

On 13 January 2011, Benedict XVI appointed Mgr Girelli to the posts of apostolic nuncio to Singapore, apostolic delegate to Malaysia and Brunei, and non-resident pontifical representative to Vietnam.

The posting to Vietnam is the first concrete result of long-term negotiations between the Holy See and Vietnamese authorities.

In 2009, the parties set up a joint Holy See-Vietnam group to give formal recognition to the negotiations.

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