Persecuted Vietnamese Cardinal on Path to ‘Sainthood’
“He was a real saint as he suffered so much in Vietnamese prisons…So it is important to propose to the Church such an example of faith, of love and of pardon,”
By Santosh Digal,
Tuesday, 18 September 2007 Vietnam (BosNewsLife) — The president of the Vatican ‘s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Cardinal Renato Rafaelle Martino, said Tuesday, September 18, that proceedings are underway to beatify his predecessor, a Vietnamese cardinal imprisoned for 13 years by the Communists.
He spoke after an audience with Pope Benedict XVI on Monday, September 17, the fifth anniversary of the death of Francois-Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan. “It a good occasion that the pope invited us because after 5 years and according to the canon law, we can we open the process for beautification of the cardinal,” he told Vatican Radio.
“He was a real saint as he suffered so much in Vietnamese prisons…So it is important to propose to the Church such an example of faith, of love and of pardon,” the cardinal added. Beautification is seen by the Catholic Church as the first step on the path to “sainthood”. Evangelical Christians have questioned that concept, saying that everyone who accepts Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is transformed and therefore a ‘saint’.
Yet, the announcement underscored the Vatican ‘s concern about reports of persecution of Christians in Vietnam and other countries.
“We remember him with so much admiration,” the pope said in a statement about Cardinal Van Thuan. “His fervent commitment to spread the Church’s social doctrine among the poor of the world,” as an exampled of hope, he added.
Van Thuan “lived hope and spread it among all those he encountered. It was thanks to this spiritual energy that he resisted all physical and moral difficulties,” said the pontiff. The nephew of South Vietnam ‘s first President Ngo Dinh Diem, Van Thuan was targeted for his faith as the bishop of Saigon .
He spent 13 years in a Communist reeducation camp including nine in solitary confinement, reportedly fashioning a tiny Bible out of scraps of paper, observers said. Forced into exile in 1988, he went to the Vatican , rising to cardinal in 2001.
From 1998 till de day before he died on September 17, 2002, he led the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, described as an “action-oriented studies” for the international promotion of justice, peace, and human rights from the perspective of the Roman Catholic Church.