The arrival here of three Vietnamese bishops has ended long Vatican uncertainty about the government´s willingness to authorize the visit.
Reaching Rome Nov. 7 for "ad limina" visits to Pope John Paul II were:
- Cardinal Trịnh Văn Căn of Hanoi, 64.
- Archbishop Nguyễn Văn Bình of Hochiminh City (Hochiminhville), 75.
- Bishop Huỳnh Đông Các of Qui Nhơn, 62.
The three prelates appear to be the only bishops of Vietnam´s 40 allowed to visit the pope at this time, though some visited Rome earlier this year.
All bishops are required to visit Rome every five years, and the Vietnam government allowed almost all bishops to come to Rome in 1980.
Archbishop Bình clarified earlier reports about the arrest of Jesuits in Vietnam in August. He said only one Jesuit student, Phạm Thanh Liêm, was arrested in Dalat, and the Jesuit house was not confiscated.
In Thủ Đức, nobody was arrested, but one of two Jesuit buildings was borrowed by the government for use as a school, he said. The Jesuit living there moved to a small house near a chapel, where priests are allowed to officiate.
Archbishop Bình also said he ordained four new priests Oct. 26 in the cathedral of Hochiminhville (Saigon), bringing to 11 the number of priests ordained with government authorization for the archdiocese in the past decade.
At the end of his weekly general audience Oct. 20, the pope urged international relief organizations to give generous and quick help to flood victims in central Vietnam.
He expressed sorrow for a nation he said is far away but "very dear to me," and offered the solidarity of his prayers.
"I would like to publicly express the wish that the amount of international aid, part of which will certainly be the generous contribution of the Catholic community, will be up to the serious and urgent needs caused by the typhoon," the pope said.
Though the three prelates had been reported as authorized to visit Rome, the pope voiced concerned about the Catholic community in Vietnam because the three had not yet arrived at the time of the October audience.
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