Vietnam Showing Signs of a Robust Faith

57 Priests Ordained in Hanoi as Thousands Attend

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry

HANOI, Vietnam, NOV. 30, 2005 ( Thousands of faithful crowded Hanoi’s cathedral to attend the priestly ordination of 57 Vietnamese deacons, conferred by Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe.

«You have received the Lord’s call to be priests and the privilege of continuing with him his saving mission on this earth,» the prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples told the ordinands Tuesday. The Vatican official is on a pastoral visit to this country at the invitation of the Vietnamese bishops’ conference.

«Priestly ordination gives you the authority and duty to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus and to preach in the name of the Church,» he told the ordinands.

That will be, precisely, one of the commitments for these new priests, in a country of more than 80 million inhabitants, more than 80% of whom practice no creed at all. Catholics in Vietnam number about 6 million.

«To preach the Gospel is not to engage in proselytism in the negative sense often attributed to evangelization; rather, it is to share the joy and truth that we Christians take to our non-Christian brothers,» stressed Cardinal Sepe, as quoted by the Fides news agency.

Pastoral advice

The 62-year-old cardinal reminded the candidates of the importance of prayer, following the example of Jesus.

«If we do not remain united to this source, our priestly life is destined to die,» he cautioned.

The cardinal thanked the parents and relatives of the new priests «for having offered them to the service of the Church.»

He also invited the faithful to sanctify and defend the family from all harmful influences of the consumeristic and egotistical society, and to «zealously preserve the good tradition of the Vietnamese family in which family piety and respect for elderly persons continue to be very profound.»

Cardinal Sepe expressed Benedict XVI’s greetings to the thousands of pilgrims who filled the cathedral, its square not being sufficient to accommodate the additional thousands of faithful who came from more distant localities, to attend the historic event.

During the ceremony, no governmental delegation was seen, but there were numerous plainclothes policemen among the crowd, reported AsiaNews.

On Tuesday afternoon, Cardinal Sepe met with priests and religious in the cathedral of the Hung Hoa Diocese and reminded them of the «special place» they occupy in the Holy Father’s prayer and in his own, reported Fides.

New diocese

The previous day, the prefect of the Vatican’s missionary dicastery met with bishops of the ecclesiastical province of Hanoi, recommending to them in particular the issue of formation — of seminarians, priests, catechists and the laity, and of the great attention that should be paid to young people, to families, and to evangelization.

The ordination of the 57 deacons was a highlight of the cardinal’s program, who arrived in Vietnam on Monday.

Another key event will be the establishment of the new Ba Ria Diocese and the taking of office of its first leader, Bishop Thomas Nguyên Van Trâm, 63, currently the auxiliary of Xuan Loc.

Cardinal Sepe is also scheduled to visit the Archdioceses of Hue and Ho Chi Minh City, as well as Vietnamese Prime Minister Phan Van Kai and members of the Religious Affairs Commission.

A high percentage of Vietnamese Catholics — 80% to 90% — practice their faith.

Fides said that the faithful are served by three archdioceses and 23 dioceses, and by 39 bishops, 2,212 diocesan priests and 521 religious priests.

In addition, there are 1,778 men religious, 11,443 women religious, 1,395 lay missionaries and 50,605 catechists involved in the work of the local Church.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry


Support ZENIT

If you liked this article, support ZENIT now with a donation