By Thanh Thuy – AsiaNews
The non-resident representative of the Holy See has recently visited the Asian country, encountering different communities. He stressed the courage of the faithful, urging them to follow the example of Abraham “who believed in the love of God.” The enthusiasm of Catholics in meeting Pope Francis’s envoy.
Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) – Vietnamese Catholics “are a minority” of the population, but they can make a decisive contribution to the development of the nation by promoting “a true freedom of religion and conscience” as well as “basic Human Rights”, which every nation in the world “has the duty to respect.” This was the appeal made to the faithful by Msgr. Leopoldo Girelli, non-resident representative of the Holy See, in the course of a three-day visit Aug. 10 to 12. The Vatican diplomat visited the diocese of Vinh Long (for the second time, after the first trip in October 2011), Long Xueyn and other areas of the Mekong Delta, meeting tens of thousands of Catholics in celebrations for their meeting “with Pope Francis’s envoy”.
In Vinh Long, about 180 km from Ho Chi Minh City in southern Vietnam, Msgr. Girelli visited the parish of My Thanh. The second leg of the journey was a visit to the parish of Bo Ot in the neighboring Diocese of Long Xuyen, where he concelebrated a Mass with the local bishop, Msgr. Joseph Tan Xuan Tieu and 30 other priests, in the presence of more than 5 thousand faithful of the area and other neighboring parishes.
The enthusiasm of the Catholic community was great. They viewed the papal representative’s visit as a sign that “the love of Jesus in our midst.” In his homily, Msgr. Girelli invited the faithful to pray and carry out charitable works following the example of Abraham “who obeyed the call of God.”
The Holy See’s non-resident representative’s visit also touched on the community of Cu Lao Gieng in the town of Gieng Isle, An Giang province, cradle of the local Catholic community, a land of missionaries and martyrs, including St. Peter Đoàn Công and St. Emmanuel Lê Văn Phụng. It is from these lands that the work of evangelization of Vietnam began, a country where Catholics represent 10% of the population and are often victims of persecution, abuses or violations of religious freedom by the communist authorities (local or central government).
In this vein Msgr. Girelli underlined the commitment to “the promotion of a true freedom of religion and conscience” because they are “the fundamental rights of every human being, with which every nation in the world has a duty to comply.” The prelate also expressed admiration and pride for the development of the Vietnamese Church and Catholic community, which has been able to “live with courage, faith, following the example of Abraham who always believed in the love of God.”