08/22/2018, 15.02
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Vietnamese Catholic families caught between economic hardships and crisis of values

by Paul N. Hung

Catholics in the Asian country are closely following the World Meeting of Families. Courses, pastoral programmes and catechesis across the country accompany and support young couples from marriage onwards. For Catholic sociological researchers, welcoming and integrating rural migrants in new parishes is a priority.

Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) – Catholic families in Vietnam face a number of challenges at present, ranging from economic problems and rural exodus to a crisis of values and difficult integration.

Although many Vietnamese Catholics could not attend the World Meeting of Families currently underway in Dublin (Ireland, 21-26 August), they have been closely following the event from home.

In a reminder to the faithful, Mgr Giuse (Joseph) Châu Ngọc Tri, bishop of Lạng Sơn-Cao Bằng and president of the Pontifical Council for the Family of Vietnam, said that "it is possible to discover the meaning of faith in the family."

"God has given us the gift of faith,” said the prelate, and “God has used our parents to make the seed of life grow and sprout in us.”

Speaking to AsiaNews, some Catholic sociological researchers note that "nowadays, most families suffer from the country’s moral and economic crises. This has a very negative impact on family life and children’s education.”

"As far as their religious life is concerned, these families often struggle to integrate in new communities or parishes. For this reason, it is necessary to open one’s arms and welcome them. Parishes are like their home: here faith finds strength."

Catholics represent only 7 per cent of Vietnam’s population. As a result of migration, many of them move to cities where they are even more in the minority. One consequence is the rising number of mixed marriages.

Given this situation, the Church of Vietnam invites the faithful to "accompany these families and support them in their faith, so that they can bear witness to the Gospel and bring Jesus to all their relatives."

Responding to Pope Francis’s appeals for a greater commitment to the family apostolate, Vietnamese bishops have launched various initiatives in the past three years. Courses, pastoral programmes and catechesis accompany young couples from marriage onward and support them even in times of economic difficulty.

"The family is a cell of the Church,” said Lôrensô Vũ Văn Trình, of the Order of Friars Minor. “It is a natural and fundamental school for children’s education.”

"Families play a very important role in helping young people to live their faith with strength. If the parents live virtuously and love each other, children will follow their example."

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