Holy See-Vietnam talks in the Vatican
The Holy See and Vietnam are starting two days of talks in the Vatican on Wednesday, the Holy See’s Press office said on Tuesday
“As previously agreed, the Eighth Meeting of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam/Holy See Joint Working Group will be held in the Vatican from 21 to 22 August,” said a statement by the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni.
He said, “The meeting is intended to develop and advance bilateral relations, focusing in particular on some aspects of the ecclesial life of the country as well as issues regarding the status and mission of the resident Papal Representative in Viet Nam and the visit of His Eminence Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, to take place in the near future.”
“The Vietnamese delegation will be led by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Mr. To Anh Dung, and that of the Holy See by Rev. Msgr. Antoine Camilleri, under-secretary for Relations with States,” the statement said.
Vietnamese sisters assisting people with Hansen’s disease
By Vatican News staff writer
The Daughters of Our Lady of the Visitation are persisting in their mission of ministering to sufferers of Hansen’s disease, or leprosy, in Vietnam’s coastal city of Da Nang.
Their ministry began in 1980, after the Vietnam War, when a road was cleared to a leprosarium which had been founded in 1968 by a pair of American missionaries.
The “Happy Haven” institution was abandoned in 1974 when its founders left the country due to health problems.
Its residents suffered the same fate, and were left to fend for themselves. They survived by growing crops, catching fish, and collecting fruit and vegetables from the surrounding forest.
Nuns in lay people’s clothing
That’s when the Daughters of the Visitation stepped in. They pretended to be ordinary people, and brought Happy Haven residents whatever clothes and food they could find, and administered Holy Communion to the 100-odd Catholics who lived there.
They had to hide their religious identity because the government had banned priests from offering pastoral care in the leprosarium.
Make way for progress…
Fast-forward 30 years to 2012, and those suffering from Hansen’s disease were forced to leave the hillside institution.
Authorities in Da Nang announced plans to build a US$130 million resort on that exact spot. The local government provided the former residents with houses in Lien Chieu district.
Ground has yet to be broken on the resort project due to compensation disputes between investors and those who live in the surrounding area.
Mission in evolution
After all these years, the Daughters of the Visitation have continued with their ministry.
However, the nuns lost contact with many former residents when they were dispersed in various areas.
Sister Mary Nguyen Thi Loi, head of the Order’s convent at Da Nang, told UCA News that it has been difficult to track them down, mainly because many are illiterate and lack mobile phones.
“Now we work with 23 families with 100 [Hansen’s sufferers] and their relatives” in several different areas, said Sister Loi.
Offering consolation in suffering
She added that they seek to provide money, food, clothes, medicine, and scholarships to those who live near their convents.
“We try to console them and share something useful with [them] and their families in order to reduce their physical and mental sufferings, because they are our brothers and sisters,” said Sister Loi.
The nuns’ ministry is supported by a US-based non-profit organization called Friends of Lepers in Vietnam.
So, despite the closure of the Happy Haven leprosarium, the Daughters of the Visitation have adapted their mission and still seek to offer spiritual support and consolation to any Hansen’s disease sufferers they can find.
Church in Vietnam mobilises to help those suffering from ongoing Covid-19 crisis
By Vatican News staff writer
Whilst many countries around the world begin easing their Covid-19 restrictions, the situation in Vietnam continues to worsen. On Monday, 13,483 positive cases were registered and of these 1,714 were in Ho Chi Minh City alone. As a result, Catholic communities in the local archdiocese have mobilised to offer their assistance.
Tân Trang Parish
Father Joseph Đinh Văn Thọ, vicar of Tân Trang Parish, called on the faithful to pray and perform works of charity. The parish has organised special food distributions for those most in need. These include, amongst others, rubbish collectors, the elderly, the ill, and those living in the poorest areas. Fr Joseph explains that "many families face great challenges, but we always have faith in God. We pray for peace for everyone and for the end of the pandemic. And we thank those who with their generosity help us bring this aid in a spirit of charity and love."
St Martin's Parish
In St. Martin's Parish, Fr. Peter Vũ Minh Hùng had already opened Quán Cơm 2000, a soup kitchen in which the poor can receive a bowl of rice for the symbolic price of 2,000 dong (the equivalent of a few US cents), in 2016. Because of the pandemic, the soup kitchen was forced to close, but reorganised itself as a place in which to distribute rice to the poor and needy, including those who make a living selling lottery tickets or driving motorcycle taxis. Between 500 and 600 people arrive for delivery each day, with Fr. Peter Vũ Minh Hùng himself participating in food preparation.
Xuân Hiệp Parish
Salesian Fr. Joseph Nguyễn Trường Thạch, vicar of Xuân Hiệp Parish, has organised the distribution of food parcels to which the Department of Charity and Social Works of the Vietnamese Jesuit Province also contributes. The parish has also set aside small sums of money to support those who are struggling to pay their water and electricity bills or to buy medicine.
In one of the areas hardest hit by Covid, the parish of Hoàng Mai itself has had to experience quarantine in recent days. But even this hardship has not stopped the spirit of charity, with families sharing food and masks.
The Catholic Church in Vietnam
Vietnam has the fifth largest Catholic population in Asia, after the Philippines, India, China and Indonesia. There are about 7 million Catholics in Vietnam, representing 7.0% of the total population, and the Church is present with 27 dioceses (including three archdioceses) that include over 2,200 parishes and more than 2,500 priests. A government census of 2019 shows that Catholicism, for the first time, is the largest religious denomination in the country, surpassing Buddhism.
Vietnamese sand sculpture recalls Pope’s Covid-19 “Urbi et Orbi"
By Robin Gomes
Three young people from Nam Dinh, in north Vietnam, made an impressive sand sculpture on the beach of the Nghia Hung district, depicting the Pope’s special “Urbi et Orbi” blessing and prayer held at the Vatican on March 27, as the world battled the Covid-19 pandemic.
Urbi et Orbi and cross
The Holy Father presided over the evening prayer service in a deserted and silent St. Peter’s Square under a steady rain. Standing tall in front of the basilica was a 16th-century cross that was specially brought for the occasion from Rome’s Saint Marcello’s Church.
The cross that had miraculously remained unscathed in a church fire, had been taken in a procession from Saint Marcello to St. Peter’s in 1522 during the great plague of Rome.
The young Vietnamese recreated the March 27 scene in a 4x5-meter artwork in sand, with the Pope looking up to the crucified Christ on the cross in silent prayer.
Lai Trinh, a professional wood sculptor and his two Catholic friends, Nguyen Son and Tran Nhat created the sand sculpture in three hours. They used simple tools such as a shovel, string, knife, trowel, and a large brush.
Speaking to a journalist, Lai Trinh said that all three who are passionate about sculpture, have created this piece entitled, “The Pope prays”. They wanted to express their religious faith and invite everyone to join in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, inspired by the scene of Pope Francis.
“We are inspired by the image of the Pope praying for the world to escape from the Covid-19 pandemic,” Lai Trinh said. Sculpting, he explained, is their daily work, but making a work entirely of sand is a novelty.
Nguyen Son said with great devotion they participated in the “Orbi et Urbi” blessing and prayer that was streamed live online, even though it was midnight in Vietnam.
It is not the first time that Lai Trinh has created a sand sculpture. He had earlier made a 5-meter tall sculpture of the Pope in a beach in Nam Dinh.
"Pope Francis prays" was created on May 1. It was a welcome surprise for thousands of people who flocked to the beach because of two consecutive holidays.
April 30 is a public holiday in Vietnam, marking the reunification of North Vietnam and South Vietnam. May 1 is observed as Labour Day worldwide.
The Pope held his Urbi et Orbi prayer and blessing at a time when Italy, the worst hit in Europe by the pandemic, had already surpassed the total number of cases and deaths in China where the virus began.
At the March 27 prayer, Pope Francis offered a meditation on the crisis facing the world, exposed the Blessed Sacrament for adoration and imparted his Urbi et Orbi blessing, offering everyone the opportunity to receive a plenary indulgence.
News vietnamese vatican
Holy See-Vietnam Joint Working Group concludes talks
The Viet Nam-Holy See Working Group that met in the Vatican, August 21-22, issued a joint statement on Friday about the issues discussed, including relations between the two states, the status and issues regarding the Catholic Church in the south-east Asian nation and setting up of the Office of the Resident Papal Representative in Vietnam.
The meeting was co-chaired by Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, To Anh Dung, who headed his country’s delegation, and Vatican Under-Secretary for Relations with States, Mgr. Antoine Camilleri, the head of the Holy See delegation.
Please find below the text of the joint press communique:
The two delegations had in-depth discussions on Vietnam-Holy See relations, including on matters related to the Catholic Church in Viet Nam. The two sides noted with satisfaction the positive developments in the bilateral relations in recent years, especially the frequent contacts between the two sides following the seventh Meeting of the Viet Nam – Holy See Joint Working Group held in Ha Noi in December 2018 and the consultations between the Viet Nam Inter-agency Working Group and Archbishop Marek Zalewski, the Non-resident Papal Representative to Viet Nam.
The Vietnamese delegation reiterated that the State of Vietnam has been increasingly improving the execution of the consistent policy of respecting and ensuring freedom of belief and religion, creating a conducive environment for the activities and development of the Catholic community in Viet Nam. The Holy See expressed its appreciation for the assistance of the State to the Catholic Church, and reaffirmed the desire of the Catholic faithful to live up to their vocation to be good Catholics and good citizens in order to contribute validly to the development and well-being of Vietnam, in fidelity to the teaching of the Church and with due respect to the applicable laws of the country.
The two delegations also discussed issues related to the ecclesial situation in Viet Nam. They reached agreement on ways to promote further the relations between Viet Nam and the Holy See in the immediate future and, in particular, on the main principles underlying the Regulations on the status of the Resident Papal Representative and the Office of the Resident Papal Representative in Viet Nam, in view of the setting up of the Office at the earliest possible date.
The two sides also expressed their commitment to continuing dialogue based on trust and respect for the mutually agreed principles governing the bilateral relations. They underscored the importance of further promoting contacts, including at high levels, between the two sides.
On the occasion of the visit to the Vatican, the Vietnamese delegation was granted an Audience with His Holiness Pope Francis, and paid courtesy calls on the Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, and the Secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher. These meetings were held in a cordial atmosphere of goodwill and mutual respect.
Pope donates aid to Haiti, Bangladesh, Vietnam
By Gabriella Ceraso
The Pope's concern for the battered and forgotten Caribbean island of Haiti has also taken concrete form, after an appeal for solidarity launched at the Angelus on August 15 with the invocation of Our Lady's protection.
In a statement released on Tuesday, the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, headed by Cardinal Peter Turkson, notes that Pope Francis has decided to send a preliminary contribution of 200,000 euros for the relief of the population in this phase of the post-earthquake emergency, a phase that is linked to the already difficult situation due to the Covid-19 pandemic that has caused about 600 victims in the collapsed health situation on the island.
The earthquake, which struck on the morning of 14 August 14 with a magnitude 7.2 on the Richter scale, and was also felt in Jamaica, had its epicenter about 150 km west of the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince, and devastated entire regions of the south and southwest. A still provisional tally, which has been increasing day-by-day, now numbers 2,207 dead, 344 missing and more than 12,000 injured. The damage is incalculable. Entire inland areas have been razed to the ground and homes have come down with avalanches of land already made fragile by aggressive deforestation that has marked the island for years. And what the earthquake did not destroy, the tropical storm that hit the archipelago in recent days did.
The international solidarity that the Pope had urged from the beginning, is working, but with many difficulties due to both the uncontrolled criminal gangs present throughout the territory and the difficulties of connections for the disaster that has been created. The support of Francis is therefore necessary and desired. In its statement, the Dicastery explains that the funds “will be distributed in collaboration with the Apostolic Nunciature among the dioceses most affected by the disaster, [and] will be used to assist the earthquake victims.” The contribution “is intended to be an immediate expression of the feeling of spiritual closeness and paternal encouragement towards the people and territories affected” by the disaster. Accompanied by prayer, the humanitarian aid – being gathered by Bishops’ Conferences and numerous charitable organizations and other entities throughout the Church, will be used in support of the “beloved Haitian population.”
Support for Bangladesh and Vietnam
Along with Haiti, Pope Francis is also providing immediate relief for two other countries in great difficulty. An initial offering of emergency aid of about 60 thousand euros has already been dispatched to the people of Bangladesh, recently hit by Cyclone Yaas. Over one million affected by the cyclone are already in conditions of extreme difficulty due to the spread of Indian variant.
Vietnam is another country close to the heart of Pope Francis. The Holy Father has sent initial aid package of 100,000 euros to the country, which is in a state of serious distress due to the socio-economic consequences related to the Covid 19 pandemic, which has caused more than 8000 victims here.
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Vietnamese diocese blessed with 34 new priests
By Robin Gomes
"It is a day of great joy, a day of great blessing in the Diocese of Vinh, which rejoices for 34 new ordained priests who will also be missionaries, where the Lord will call them to proclaim and bear witness to the Gospel." This is how Bishop Alphonse Nguyen Huu Long of Vinh introduced the solemn Mass of the priestly ordination which he presided over on Sunday, the Vatican’s Fides news agency reported.
‘Good Samaritan’ amid suffering
He noted that his diocese was “living this moment of great happiness, at a time of great suffering in many parts of the world” due to the surge in Covid-19 infections, including in Vietnam. The Mass could be attended only by a limited number of religious, seminarians and faithful of the diocese due to the Covid-19 health protocols.
Precisely in this dramatic situation, he pointed out, the new priests will be the ‘Good Samaritan’, “bringing care and mercy to wounded hearts, and they will also be missionaries in remote places or even in three dioceses, where the Lord will call them to live”. "Evangelization,” he recalled, “is the task of every baptized person; the proper mission of every priest is to lead men and women to God in order to have the gift of salvation and eternal life".
Happy to serve anywhere
Bishop Alphonse said that priests are called to be available and happy to serve anywhere, including in remote mission territories, poor countryside or in areas hard to reach. “The population in places of conflict, or where there are natural disasters or a high risk of contagion from a pandemic,” the bishop said, “really need the presence of priests for material and spiritual comfort, in order to help overcome pain and receive hope". Bishop Alphonse noted that the Lord continues to call young people despite the fact that nowadays many are unwilling to dedicate their lives to serve people in difficult and dangerous places.
‘Fidei Donum’ priests
"In the context of the scarcity of priests, and while the population suffers severely from the pandemic and other causes, after a prayer discernment, I have decided to share half of these new priests with isolated territories, in other dioceses that lack priests,” Bishop Alphonse said. He is sending some of them as 'Fidei Donum' priests in the northern Diocese of Hung Hoa, where there is a shortage of priests to serve about 250,000 faithful in 10 provinces in mountainous and lowland areas.
The expression ‘Fidei Donum’ is the Latin for ‘the Gift of Faith’. This is the name of the 1957 encyclical of Pius XII, which called on all bishops to share his vision “to face the challenges of the universal mission of the Church”. This involved not only by means of prayer and assisting each other but also by making priests available to other dioceses, countries and continents. These priests, who while serving elsewhere are still attached to their own dioceses, are referred to as “Fidei Donum” priests. Turning to the new priests, Bishop Alphonse urged them to show their love for God by repeating in their hearts, “Lord, I come to do your will”.
Vietnam’s Covid-19 burden
The Communist-ruled country, which successfully contained the coronavirus outbreak throughout 2020, is now experiencing its worst wave so far. Its Covid-19 numbers have surpassed 6,000 infections a day for the past week. The health ministry on Monday reported 7,882 new cases, up from 7,531 cases on Sunday and just shy of the record of 7,968 set on Saturday. Most cases are concentrated in Ho Chi Minh City and its neighbouring provinces, the ministry of health said.
It has recorded more than 109,000 infections since the start of the pandemic, with at least 524 deaths. A fifth of those cases have occurred between July 23 and 25.
In this situation, the Catholics in all the diocese are working to provide for the essential, material and spiritual needs of the people in the quarantine areas and other people in need. Some priests, religious and Catholic laity are also volunteering to provide pastoral, spiritual and humanitarian to patients in high-risk areas such as in Covid hospitals. (Source: Fides)