"Cor Unum" President in Vietnam on an Aid Mission

Papal Representative Arrives at Invitation of Archbishop

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HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam, JAN. 14, 2003 (Zenit.org).- A Vatican representative is visiting Vietnam to meet with Catholic communities and support the social and charitable work of the Church in the country.

Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council «Cor Unum,» which allocates John Paul II’s aid, arrived Monday in the Asian country at the invitation of Archbishop Jean-Baptiste Pham Minh Mân of Ho Chi Minh, formerly Saigon. The visit ends Jan. 20.

«Cor Unum» said it has had contacts with the Church in Vietnam since the 1970s, «constantly sending concrete aid to those communities, which have experienced periods of grave sufferings.»

According to a «Cor Unum» statement, «the two principal objectives of this trip are to combat poverty and isolation.»

Archbishop Cordes is also visiting some southern dioceses «to get to know firsthand the situations of poverty, aggravated by frequent flooding.»

He will then travel to the north, to Hanoi, where he will meet with Cardinal Joseph Pham Dinh Tung, 83, a longtime member of «Cor Unum.»

The Vatican explained that this visit is «an important occasion to testify to the affection of the Holy Father John Paul II for the Vietnamese people, to grow in mutual knowledge, and to reflect together with the local Church on the most urgent forms of charity that must be applied, in order to meet the material and spiritual needs of those who have lived in difficult situations for a long time.»

According to the Church’s Statistical Yearbook, Catholics constitute 6.82% of the population of 81 million. The Communist nation does not enjoy diplomatic relations with the Vatican, and religious freedom is limited.

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