Pope Marks Jubilee of Church in Vietnam


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(26 Nov 09 - RV) On Thursday the Vatican published Pope Benedict's message to the Church in Vietnam to mark the 350th anniversary of Catholicism in the country.

"The Jubilee for the Church in Vietnam is a time of reconciliation, of deepening of ecclesial communion and of building "a just and fair society in conformity with the principal of solidarity, through genuine dialogue, mutual respect and healthy collaboration". That is the hope that Pope Benedict XVI expresses in his message addressed to the President of the Vietnam Bishops' Conference, Pierre Nguyen Van Nhon.

The message, released Thursday by the Vatican was read by Cardinal Roger Etchegaray Monday evening to a sea of over 100 thousand Vietnamese faithful who held a candlelit procession around the town of So Kien, the birth place of the Vietnamese church.

In the letter written in French the Pope stresses the choice made by the Vietnamese episcopate to begin the jubilee year on November 24th, the feast of the 117 martyr saints of that nation. "The memory of their noble testimony - writes the Pope - will help the whole people of God in Vietnam to act out His charity, to increase His hope and strengthen His faith which, at times, everyday puts to the test."

"For the opening of your celebration - continues the message - you have chosen So Kien, in the Archdiocese of Hanoi, a symbolic place that speaks particularly to your hearts. It was the first seat of the Apostolic Vicariate of Vietnam and still retains vestiges of your precious holy martyrs and also of their noble relics. In this jubilee year may this place that is so dear to the heart be a place of profound evangelization that will bring the Gospel values of charity, truth, justice and honesty to all of Vietnamese society. "

"The jubilee - continues the pope - is a time of grace for reconciliation with God and neighbour. To this end, we must recognize the wrongs of the past and present committed against our brothers in faith and against fellow compatriots and ask forgiveness. At the same time, we must also make the decision to deepen and enrich ecclesial communion and to build a just society and fair society in conformity with the principal of solidarity through genuine dialogue, mutual respect and healthy collaboration. The Jubilee - concludes the message - is also a special time to renew the proclamation of the Gospel to fellow citizens and to increasingly become a Church that is communion and mission".