VATICAN CITY, FEB. 23, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is expressing closeness to Vietnamese bishops after the death of Cardinal Paul Joseph Pham Dinh Tung.
The Pope sent a telegram today to Archbishop Joseph Ngo Quang Kiet of Hanoi, in which he affirmed: “With great sadness I learned the news of the death of Cardinal Paul Joseph Pham Dinh Tung, archbishop emeritus of Hanoi and your predecessor, and I wish to express my fervent union in prayer with all the bishops of Vietnam, with the faithful of the archdiocese of Hanoi and the rest of the country, with the family of the late cardinal, and with all people affected by this loss.”
The cardinal died Sunday at the age of 89.
The Pontiff wrote, “I ask God the Father, from whom all mercy comes, to welcome into his peace and light this eminent pastor who, through difficult circumstances, was able to serve the Church with great courage and generous loyalty to the See of Peter, tirelessly dedicating himself to the announcement of the Gospel.”
He concluded, “To you, to your auxiliary, to the bishops of Vietnam, to priests and religious, to the faithful of the archdiocese of Hanoi, as well as to the relatives of the late cardinal and everyone participating in the funerary rites, I impart a heartfelt apostolic blessing.”
Placed under house arrest for most of his episcopate, Bishop Pham Dinh Tung was unable to visit the more than 100 parishes in his jurisdiction. Instead, he dedicated his time to compile stanzas of poetry “luc bat,” a type of writing that helps people memorize facts easily, about the Gospels, Christian doctrine, Church teaching and the sacraments.
He established a boys’ school for catechetical training, which has already educated 200 catechists for all of Vietnam.
He was made a cardinal in 1994 and retired in 2005.