Cardinal Filoni in Vietnam: "a living Church," distinguished from "the steadfast Faith of the Vietnamese faithful"

HA NOI, VIET NAM -- "I am very happy to be here with you and sincerely thank the Episcopal Conference for the invitation allowing me to visit your Country... I, too, on this occasion, can see with my own eyes the vitality of your Community, the steadfast Faith of the Vietnamese faithful": are the sentiments expressed by Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, in the meeting with the Bishops of the Episcopal Conference of Vietnam, which took place this morning in Hanoi, at the beginning of his pastoral visit in the Asian country.

In Vietnam, religious practice is high "not just for Sunday Mass, but also throughout the week", the Cardinal highlighted. In all of the Dioceses and parishes the faithful love to gather together in organizations for the lay apostolate. Everywhere the faithful "show a particular interest in the Word of God and in study of the Catechism. Moreover, they desire to contribute, using their own labor and talents, to the building up and development of the Church, as well as the Country".Therefore, the Prefect stressed to the Bishops that the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium: "is an invaluable document, because it is the programmatic text of the Church today and represents the vision that Pope Francis has given for the years to come. He says that the joy of the Gospel is the basis for evangelization. It is born and reborn in the personal encounter with Jesus, from which is derived the change in life and the missionary spirit".

After mentioning the 50th anniversary of the conciliar Decree "Ad Gentes" concerning the Missionary Activity of the Church, Cardinal Filoni recalled that the first seeds of the Faith were brought to Vietnam by the Jesuits, the Fathers of the Foreign Mission Society of Paris, the Dominicans, the Augustinians, the Franciscans, and so many others. "The tiny seeds have taken root in the culture and customs, such that today the Faith has become a part of the lives of many Vietnamese Christians. In 2010, the Church in Vietnam celebrated the Jubilee Year, commemorating the 350th Anniversary of the first two Apostolic Vicariates, and the 50th Anniversary of the Establishment of the Hierarchy. Today, we must remember that it has been 400 years since evangelization here first began".Reiterating, therefore, that the Conciliar Document Ad Gentes still remains valid for us today, the Cardianal highlighted that: "every Bishop must continue to personally assume responsibility for evangelization" and that "the Bishop, as head and center of the Diocesan apostolate, must promote, direct, and coordinate missionary activity, and, furthermore, must encourage all the members of the People of God to participate in missionary works", without forgetting that "this missionary task can only be realized with the collaboration and prayer of the entire Church".

Finally, the Cardinal emphasized that "the path of evangelization is not an easy one to tread", and in this regard, "the Servant of God Cardinal Francis Xavier Nguyễn Văn Thuận, a witness to hope and minister of the mercy of God, is an extraordinary example of announcing the Gospel in every moment, convenient or inconvenient; yet, he shows us as well how to exercise patience and prudence, especially in dialogue".

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