01/14/2024, 13.01
ECCLESIA IN ASIA
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Vietnam: 20,000 at opening of beatification cause of Bishop de La Motte

The solemn ceremony in Phan Tieh following the 'paralell' one held on 29 October in Hanoi for Bishop Francois Pallu. The 17th century french missionarieswere the country's first two bishops. They encourgaed the first local priests and the first congregation of nuns in Asia. A symbolic gesture of the vitality of the Vietnamese Church.

Phan Thiet (Asianews/Agencies) – With an official session followed by a solemn Eucharistic celebration in the presence of 20 thousand people, the diocese of Phan Thiet yesterday officially opened the diocesan phase of the cause of beatification of Msgr. Pierre Lambert de la Motte (1624-1679), the French missionary who in the 17th century was the first bishop of Dang Trong, the southern part of Vietnam.

The celebration followed by a few weeks a similar one held in the cathedral of Hanoi on 29 October, for the opening of the canonical trial on the sanctity of Msgr. Francois Pallu (1626-1684), also a pioneer of the Missions étrangères de Paris, who in the same years was entrusted with the episcopal ministry for Dang Ngoai, the northern part of Vietnam.

The official opening of the causes of beatification of the two missionary prelates considered the founding fathers of the Church in the country represents the fulfillment of a desire long cultivated by the bishops of Vietnam.

Pierre Lambert de la Motte and Francois Pallu were bishops in times of persecution and both died outside the borders of the country, but with their visits and their concern they sowed a seed that bore fruit, in communities that were able to keep the faith alive despite the many tribulations experienced over the centuries.

It is also a significant step in the new climate in relations between the Church and the government of Vietnam: these are the first two causes for the beatification of foreign missionaries promoted by local dioceses.

The president of the Vietnamese bishops, Msgr. Joseph Nguyen Nang, archbishop of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) underlined this in the celebration of October 29th: "We desire a missionary saint - he said - to be able to follow his examples of evangelization and to invoke him to give us pure inspiration and passion for the announcement of the Gospel" .

“Despite the wounds of history, they want these two Frenchmen to become blessed – commented a few weeks ago in an interview with Mondo e Missione Fr. Vincent Senechal, superior general of the Missions étrangères de Paris -. They are capable of going beyond the criticisms of those who say that Christianity in Asia is the religion of foreigners. They say: they are our bishops, this is the Church."

Yesterday the archbishop of Hue, Msgr. Joseph Nguyen Chi Linh, gave the homily remembering how Msgr. Pierre Lambert de la Motte, "despite the fact that he lived only 55 years, of which 19 as a bishop and was able to visit Vietnam only 3 times, he accomplished very important and essential things for the Church in Vietnam".

His base was in fact nearby Siam (today's Thailand) where, with the support of the local king, he founded the church of St. Joseph in Ayutthaya and his seminary, which became the base for missionaries in many Asian countries. Having secretly entered Vietnam during a trip there between September 1675 and June 1676, he ordained the first local priests there. He was also responsible for the foundation of the first female congregation in Asia, the Lovers of the Cross.

Also present at the celebration was the president of the Episcopal Conference of Thailand, Msgr. Joseph Chusak Sirisut. In fact,given that Msgr. de La Motte died in Ayutthaya, the cause of beatification takes place in Vietnam by virtue of a letter with which, with the approval of the Holy See, the Archbishop of Bangkok transfers canonical jurisdiction to the diocese of Phan Thiet.

ECCLESIA IN ASIA IS THE ASIANEWS NEWSLETTER DEDICATED TO CHRISTIAN COMMUNITIES IN ASIA. TO RECEIVE A WEEKLY UPDATE EVERY SUNDAY, CLICK HERE.

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