Working Paper for the 2010 Congress (3)

PART TWO
PASTORAL DIRECTIONS

On the basis of the theological reflections presented above in Part One, Part Two brings out a number of pastoral proposals in order to make theological reflections become concrete actions, in contribution to building the Church as mystery, communion and mission which is the principal purpose of this Congress.

A. MYSTERY

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I. PASTORAL PROPOSAL 1 : STRENGTHENING THE COMMUNION BETWEEN THE FAITHFUL WITH GOD

1. Orientation

To express the face of the Church as the People of God, the Body of Christ and the Temple of the Holy Spirit, the Church in Vietnam needs to be more concerned of developing and deepening each faithful’s communion with the Holy Trinity. At the same time, the mystery of the Holy Trinity should become the model for the life of the Church, manifested through the unity and love relationships between the faithful with their pastors, and among the faithful themselves. At the heart of this profound communion is the Blessed Sacrament, because “no christian community can be built without being founded and centered on the celebration of the Blessed Sacrament” (Pope John Paul II, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, no. 33). By celebrating the Blessed Sacrament, we receive Jesus Christ into our life, are nourished by His Word, His Body and Blood strengthens and transforms us into His Body, the Church.

2. Pastoral priorities

a) Celebrating the Holy Eucharist : The Vietnamese catholics maintain their good tradition of faithfully attending Sunday mass. However, the congregations should celebrate the mass more consciously, positively and lively.

b) Sacramental grace must be fostered in daily life. The word of God should become the light that illumines and guides the life of the faithful in all aspects : individual, family, congregation, society.

3. Plans for action

a) Priests should give more time and energy to preaching the Word of God and teaching catechism. Encourage and facilitate the faithful to directly read, study and share the Sacred Scripture.

b) Facilitate and make use of appropriate methods to help all members of the People of God to digest catechism and study the directives of the Church’s Magisterium.

c) Try to maintain and advocate praying together in the family.

d) The role of catechists : dioceses should open courses of permanent formation for catechists, help them fulfill their important duty of educating the faith for younger generations.

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II. PASTORAL PROPOSAL 2 : INCULTURAION

1. Orientation

In the mystery of the Incarnation, the Son of God really integrated into the Jewish culture, at the same time, He brought to it the Good News which was Himself, in order to give it a new meaning and make eternal everything he had received. In the same way, the Church in Vietnam respects, preserves and promotes the noble values in the national culture. At the same time, the Church tries bringing those noble cultural values into prayers, songs, liturgical celebrations, into daily life as well as into theological language and reflection.

2. Pastoral priorities

a) To respect, study, preserve and promote the noble values in the culture of the Vietnamese people and in other religions.

b) Proceed with the live dialogue between Christ’s Good News and the national culture and with other religions.

3. Plans for action

a) In the formation of seminarians and catechists, the Vietnamese culture should be introduced to all study programs. Similarly, it is necessary that the study of other religions should have a place in the personnel formation program for the Church in Vietnam.

b) Promoting the study of, and search for the seed of the Word of God in the culture of the Vietnamese people.

c) Investing personnel and resources for the development of a theology, liturgy, spirituality compatible with the positive traits in the Vietnamese culture.

B. COMMUNION

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III. PASTORAL PROPOSAL 3 : PROMOTING THE COMMUNION AND PARTICIPATION IN THE LIFE OF THE CHURCH

1. Orientation

Deeply rooted in the sacrament of Baptism, strengthened by the sacrament of Confirmation and permanently nourished by the Blessed Sacrament, all catholic faithful - bishops, priests, religious, laymen and women alike – have the responsibility of participating in building the Church and fulfilling the mission of the Church by proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom. To realize this demand, the Church needs to re-evaluate and renew the existing establishments, at the same time, to set up new structures with the purpose of pressing for more participation and collaboration among all members of the People of God. Only by that way will the Church in Vietnam really be a Church of communion and parcipation.

2. Pastoral priorities

a) Forming and pressing for structures that attract the collaboration between clerics, religious and the faithful. Advocating and promoting the charisms to serve the living unity of the Church.

b) Pushing and forming structures which favorably lead to the collaboration between dioceses, between dioceses and religious congregations and among religious congregations themselves.

3. Plans for action

a) At the parish level

Perfecting the Parish Council according to canon law and applicable to local condition.

b) At the diocesan level

- To see to it that there exists no great difference in living level among the priests in the diocese.

- The diocese needs to have a common pastoral plan with concrete orientation and regulations, instead of each local parish having its own way of doing pastoral works.

- To establish activity and consultation centers for the diocese, starting from such organizations as prescribed by canon law, such as Priests’ Council, Pastoral Council, Financial Council…

c) At the national level

- Dioceses should assist each other in personnel and finance, if possible;

- The Committees of the Bishops’ Conference should collaborate with each other more closely. The Bishops’ Conference should invest more personnel and resources for these Committees. Each Committee should have diversified traits and voices, without neglecting their effectiveness.

- To construct the headquarter of the Bishops’ Conference with offices for the Secretary General of the Bishops’ Conference and other Committees, so that they could easily work together.

- To boost and improve the collaboration of religious congregations in the diocese.

- The Bishops’ Conference should appoint an official spokesman to timely inform and speak out the viewpoint of the Bishops’ Conference in whatever matters related to the life of the Church.

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IV. PASTORAL PROPOSAL 4 :FORMATION OF PERSONNEL

1. Orientation

“ The ministerial priesthood is at the service of the common priesthood, which is directed at the unfolding of the baptismal grace of all christians” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1547). This baptismal grace is both the foundation and the atmosphere that embraces all service and leadership in the Church. Consequently, those who are charged with the responsibility of service and leadership in the Church – bishops, priests, religious, faithful – need to be well and permanently formed, so that they could fulfill the noble mission of serving the growth of the baptismal grace in all christians and proclaim the Good News to all men.

2. Pastoral priorities

a) To press for better cooperation among clerics, religious and priests in the management of the parish and in other pastoral activities.

b) In the formation program of priests, religious and faithful, emphasis should be made upon the spirit of cooperation and teamwork. The faithful’s role and participation in the formation of priests and religious should not be neglected.

3. Plans for action

a) Teaching catechism should be the primary concern of the parish.

b) Establishing a Faculty of theology under the Bishops’ Conference in order to boost the more profound research, formation and teaching of sacred studies.

c) The Church in Vietnam should set up a Catechetical Institute for the formation of professional catechists, and for studying suitable methods in the education of faith.

d) Diocesan pastoral centers should see to it that the faithful have opportunities to upgrade their knowledge of sacred Scripture, theology and pastoral, so that they could participate in the life of the Church more positively and effectively.

C. MISSION

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V. PASTORAL PROPOSAL 5 : EVANGELIZATION IN TODAY’S SITUATION

1. Orientation

All catholic faithful are called and have responsibility to participate in the Church’s mission, which is the mission of Christ Himself in the Holy Spirit. The core of this mission is to proclaim Christ’s Good News by our whole selves and our lives. This mission must be carried out in all three levels. The first level is to receive the Good News and let it penetrate in our christian life. This requires all faithful to frequently reform themselves and return to God. The second level is to bring the Good News to others through preaching as well as through our life of witness to God and to His Good News. The third level is to make the values of the Kingdom – Kingdom of truth, holiness, justice, love, peace – penetrate in all aspects of the life of the people.

2. Pastoral priorities

a) Missionary awareness : To arouse the awareness in the faithful and congregation (parish, convent) so that they would not be simply satisfied with fulfilling their devotional works, but also interested in giving witness to God and to the Good News.

b) Evangelization is not only one of the Church’s activities, but the evangelical spirit should permeate all aspects of the life of the Church.

3. Plans for action

a) Restoring the mission fund of each diocese from the contributions of parishes (Proper rule of Hanoi diocese 1941, no. 120, p. 67).

b) Each diocese and religious congregation should appoint a number of personnel, who are not occupied with any other jobs but totally dedicated to evangelization.

c) Depending upon concrete condition, each diocese should pay more attention to forming personnel and applying the modern mass media to evangelization.

d) In pastoral activities, immigrants should receive the special concern of parishes and religious communities.

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VI. PASTORAL PROPOSAL 6 : SOCIAL JUSTICE AND PRACTICE OF CHARITY

1. Orientation

The Christians do not live their faith abstractly but concretely in social settings with all their problems. Therefore, the faith itself demands that they should involve themselves in social matters. Moreover, to contribute to serving the integral development of humans and society is a vital element of evangelization. Therefore, each christian in particular and the Church in general, should be concerned about social problems, especially justice and the common good, which is the basis of the true charity (cf. Caritas in veritate – Charity in truth). To contribute to eliminating unjust structures and establishing justice in society is to participate in building God’s Kingdom in the world.

2. Pastoral priorities

a) To create awareness of justice and professional responsibility as well as charity.

b) To cooperate with other social and religious organizations in building a healthy, just and human society.

c) To be especially mindful of protecting human dignity, in particular the poor and the miserable.

3. Plans for action

a) Trying to promulgate the social teaching of the Church to all members of the People of God.

b) In the present situation when the human and religious life of young people is gravely deteriorating, parishes should pay more attention to humane education, in particular in catechetical courses. The Bishops’ Committee for the Doctrine of Faith and the Committee for Catholic Education should closely coordinate in providing guiding documents for this important task.

c) Teaching the faithful to do charity works according to the spirit of the Good News (The Indochinese Council, no. 350).

d) Restoring the parish’s charity and study promotion funds (Proper Rule of Hanoi diocese, no. 117, 118, 120, p. 65 – 67; Proper Rule of Saigon diocese, chapter 4, p. 266).

FOOTNOTES

(31) Epist. Ad Diognetum, no. 5-6; Funk, 397-401; also John Chrysostom, Homilies on the Gospel of St. Matthew, sermon 46 (47), 2 : PG 58, 478 on the leaven in the flour.

(32) Cf. Asian Colloquium on Ministries in the Church, 24-26 (For All, vol. 1, p.72); CBCV, Lineamenta: The Church in Vietnam 2010, no. 30-31.

(33) Cf. Asian Bishops’ Meeting, Resolutions of the Meeting, (For All, vol. 1, p. 8-10; FABC I, 25-28, 33, 46 (For All, vol. l, p. 16-19); FABC V, 3-4. (For All, vol. l, p. 279-282).

(34) CBCV, Pastoral Letter 1992, no. 9.

(35) Cf. Vat. II, LG 8; Benedict XVI, Caritas in veritate.

(36) Cf. CBCV, Pastoral Letter 1980; Pastoral Letter 1989.

(37) CBCV, Pastoral Letter 1992, no. 19, also CBCV, Pastoral Letter 1989; Paul VI, The Teachings of Pope Paul VI, 1970, p. 192.

(38) Cf. CBCV, Lineamenta: The Church in Vietnam 2010, no. 30; FABC V, 9. 1, (For All, vol. 1, p. 288); FABC V, 6. 2, (For All, vol. 1, p. 283).