Vietnamese Diocese Getting a Bishop After 11 Years

Father Antoine Vu Huy Chuong Is a Seminary Professor

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VATICAN CITY, AUG. 19, 2003 ( John Paul II has named a bishop for a Vietnamese diocese after more than more than a decade of complex relations with Hanoi and a series of high-level talks.

Earlier this month the Pope named Father Antoine Vu Huy Chuong, 58, professor of dogmatic theology at the Can Tho Interdiocesan Major Seminary, as bishop of the Diocese of Hung Hoa.

At age 10, when Vietnam was divided in two, young Antoine sought refuge in the South, together with millions of Catholics of the North. Two years later, he entered the minor seminary of the Archdiocese of Saigon.

The Hung Hoa Diocese, established in 1960, has been vacant since May 1992, following the death of Bishop Joseph Le Phung Hieu. Vietnam and the Vatican have yet to establish diplomatic relations.

Hung Hoa includes 196,000 Catholics in a population of 7.16 million inhabitants. The faithful are served by 77 parishes, 17 diocesan priests and 102 women religious. There are 37 seminarians, and 1,762 catechists.

Last October, a Vatican delegation headed by the then undersecretary for relations with states, Monsignor Celestino Migliore, visited Vietnam to address aspects of Church life with government officials. A month later, two episcopal appointments were made, a result of the meetings.

The visit was corresponded by Vietnam’s Vice Prime Minister Wu Khoang, who met with Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano in the Vatican, and with Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran, Vatican secretary for relations with states.

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