Giving hope to persecuted Christians since 1995
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by J.B. Vu

2/2/11 Vietnam (AsiaNews) – The Vietnamese Church has boosted its missionary efforts since 1960. People and history speak about the witness offered by bishops, priests, catechists and lay people who have expressed their loyalty amid challenges and tensions, including laying down their lives. They are the seeds of the current flowering.

Catholics continue to remember good pastors like bishops Khuat Van Tao of Bac Ninh,  Dominique Dinh Duc Tru of Thai Binh, Joseph Pham Nang Tinh of Bui Chu, Peter Pham Tan of Vinh, Vincent Pham of Lang Son, Jean Baptist Tran Huu Duc of Vinh and Card Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan. Many priests, religious, nuns, catechists and ordinary Catholics have been involved in pastoral and social activities in the service of the population.

In 1985, Card Joseph Maria Trinh Van Can, archbishop of Hanoi and president of the Vietnam Bishops’ Council, asked John Paul II to beatify the Vietnamese martyrs. He wanted those who sacrificed their lives for the faith in the past remembered something that further increased the number of Christians.

In 1986, Vietnam adopted an open door policy towards the market economy. This enhanced freedom of religion. The bishops had issued a pastoral letter six years earlier, in 1980, in which they said that the path to follow was to “live the spirit of the Bible with the nation in order to serve the happiness of the people”. The letter was a new seminal charter that led to the current situation of Vietnam. Today, the country has at least 5,000 priests and 7,000,000 Catholics.

Teresa, who belongs to the Catholic Mothers Association of Hang Xanh parish, spoke about the vicar, Fr Pham Hong Thai, “who lives and acts with all his heart towards his parishioners, giving his ‘pocket money’ to help the activities of the associations”. Today, the parish has 18,000 members and 2 priests.

Research on the Vietnamese Church shows that some 7,000,000 Catholics live in Vietnam, out of a population of 84,000,000. Although priests have to face difficulties and are under pressure from many sides, they and their parishioners remain committed to spreading the Word of God (See The Hierarchy of Viet Nam Church, 1980, p.372).

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