On the occasion of the lunar new year, Pope John Paul II wrote to Cardinal Trinh Van Can of Hanoi expressing his desire to see the bishops of Vietnam this year in Rome for their ad limina visit. The letter was broadcast March 7 by the Vietnamese language service of Vatican Radio. The letter was dated Jan. 14, a week before the lunar new year, celebrated in Vietnam Jan. 21, a month before the Chinese celebration.
After starting with Moses´ blessing, "May the Lord let His face shine upon you ... and give you peace," the letter wishes "peace and joy ... to those who follow the Lord with faithful and active perseverance." The pope then encouraged the faithful to be generous in continuing to give "authentic and vigorous witness to the Gospel message, in union with the See of Peter and with the univeral Church and in loyal service to the common good of your beloved fatherland."
The pope then expressed the wish to see the bishops of Vietnam this year, "as well as the other Asian bishops, according to the canonical directives of the Catholic Church." The pope said the visit will be one more occasion to "renew the bonds of communion between the Vietnamese bishops with their communities and the Apostolic See of Rome, which presides in charity over the great family of God."
Observers in Rome speculated that the letter may have been made public by the Holy See to convey the pope´s concern for the Vietnamese Church. Since Jan. 20, when the letter was supposed to have reached the cardinal, there has been no word that the letter was received and made public there.
From the insistence on the pope´s looking forward to the Vietnamese bishops´ visit this year, observers said, it appears that Holy See officials are wondering whether they will be allowed to come -- and how many. The last Vietnamese bishop to see the pope was Bishop Nguyen Son Lam of Dalat, who, while in Europe for medical reasons, saw the pope Feb. 15, just before he returned to Vietnam.
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