Working Paper for the 2010 Congress (2)

PART ONE
THEOLOGICAL FOUNDATION

CHAPTER I: MYSTERY

THE CHURCH OF CHRIST IN THE HEART OF VIETNAM

(2) The Catholic Church in Vietnam always recognizes itself being the Church of Christ, Who is forever the cornerstone, source and ultimate end of identity and activity of the faithful congregation. Indeed, the Church is founded, not by men’s voluntary gathering, much less by any political, economic or cultural trends or motives. The Church is born out of the eternal will of God, the Father, guided and grown up by the faith in the risen Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit, through all the pastors in communion with the Holy Father (4). The Church totally proceeds from God, exists by God and tends toward God.

(2) With faith, hope and love, the Vietnamese faithful have received the God of love, at the same time taken on the mission of bringing the Good News of salvation to their follow countrymen and women. To a country possessing a distinct and unique culture like Vietnam, with a variety of strong and weak points, the disciples of Christ have the responsibility to express and realize the incarnation of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church (5). Therefore, the Church in Vietnam is iself a sacrament, that is, a sign and instrument of God’s love for this country of ours (6), and the Church goes in company with the Vietnamese people in all ups and downs of history sharing all experiences of life with them (7).

1. The Trinitarian dimension in the Mystery of the Church

(3) The Catholics in Vietnam is convinced that the Church is the People of God, the Body of Christ, the Temple of the Holy Spirit, at the same time aware that they themselves are parts, members and stones to build the Church. It is precisely this conviction and awareness that become the basis for many initiatives to enrich the life of the Vietnamese Christians (8). Of course, these rather symbolic images are not necessarily fully understood by all people, but to a certain extent the Vietnamese Catholics have revealed those contents of the Church in their lives, even in times of difficulty and trial (9). Somehow, we can say that these faithful have lived in advance what the Church will specify later in the Council’s document (10).

a. The People of God

(4) The Church in Vietnam knows that it belongs to the people assembled and founded by God, when He signed the new and eternal covenant in the blood of His Only Son. Among the people of God, all faithful are truly equal in dignity, sharing the same vocation of being God’s children, having the same christian identity (11). Being baptized and bearing the seal of the Holy Spirit, the faithful are consecrated to God (cf. Ep 5, 26), received into His family (cf Ep 2, 19), (12) and are entitled to all heritage of grace (cf Rm 8, 17; 9, 4-5). Being the People of God, the Church should necessarily express its communitarian dimension. Therefore, conscious of his being an active member, each faithful, layman or cleric, must earnestly participate in all activities of the Church, in line with his vocation and identity compatible to each state of life (13). The variety of members of the People of God is considered as a blessing which enriches the life and mission of the Church.

In His kind and wise intention together with His wondrous providence, God has chosen Christ’s disciples in Vietnam and admitted them into His holy people “dedicated to what is good” (Tt 2, 14; Ep 4, 17-24; Cl 3, 5-8), to carry out God’s salvific plan for all people in this country. Notwithstanding the fluctuating history of the Vietnamese people, Christ’s disciples always stand firm and loyal to their conviction and live up to their being God’s People, so that, by all means possible, they try to realize what they have resolved is to live and announce the Good News for service of life and the integral development of all people (14). Being aware of their vocation as God’s People will help them stand witness to a Church which is present in this country, not as a group of strangers, or as a community isolating itself in their narrow-minded racism, but as an embodiment of God’s love given to the Vietnamese people (15).

b. The Body of Christ

(5) In the New Testament the People of God is also called the Body of Christ, a beautiful image clearly depicting the mystery dimension of the Church, expressed in the inseparable union with Christ, principle and “raison d’être” of the Church (cf. 1Cr 15, 3-14; Gl 1, 9). Christ himself “in the sacrifice of the cross, has given birth to the Church as his Spouse and Body,”
(16) has loved and redeemed the Church by the price of his blood (cf. 1Pet 1, 19; l Cr 6, 20), never ceases to sanctify and unify the Church with him, and gives his own flesh and blood to the Church (cf. Ep 5, 15, 35; l Cr 12, 27). As a result, the Blessed Sacrament becomes the heart of the Mystical Body, “source and climax of life and mission of the Church.” (17).

Living by the Holy Eucharist and living in the Mystical Body, each faithful should improve his relationship with Christ, the Head, at the same time reactivating the mutual relationship among other members in love and charity. In every Christian community, this mystery illumines their efforts to unite the faithful with their pastors and with one another, (18) at the same time encourages them to utilize effectively the charisms granted to them for the benefit of all the Mystical Body, the Church of Christ (19).

c. The Temple of the Holy Spirit

(6) The Church always convinces itself that the Holy Spirit is the soul, life-giving and acting principle in the Church of Christ (20). Acording to the expression of St Paul, the community of God’s People is built to become the Temple of the Holy Spirit, (cf. l Cr 3, 16-17; Rm 8, 9) decorated with innumerable graces (cf. Rm 12, 6-8; l Cr 12, 4-11, 27-30; Ep 4, 11-13). At the same time “the Holy Spirit is the unifying principle, begetting and inciting charity. It is the Holy Spirit Himself, Who is the principal agent of the new evangelization in our times” (21). Consequently, all the activities of the Church in Vietnam totally come from the Holy Spirit, Who sanctifies the faithful and produces good results from men’s humble efforts. It is the Holy Spirit Who unifies the Church in Vietnam in faith, in charity and in hope, so that, the Church can generously commit itself to the betterment of worldly realities. It is also the Holy Spirit Himself Who makes the Church in Vietnam sensible to the signs of times in history (22).

Being the Temple of the Holy Spirit, and their hearts being filled with God’s love (cf. Rm 5, 5; 8, 5-17), the disciples of Christ, while faithfully following the Holy Spirit, (cf. Gl 5, 25) always strive to reach the holiness which is the perfection of charity. So, the Vietnamese faithful believe that the Church comes from God, is in communion with the mystery of infinite and absolute love of the Holy Trinity, source, model and end of the whole Church (23).

2. The Christological dimension in the Mystery of the Church

a. The divino-human structure

(7) In the history of redemption, the invisible God has become visible when “the Word became man” (Jn 1, 14; also cf. Gl 4, 4) (24). Similarly, the Church of Christ also has in itself this divino-human structure, “being both human and divine, both visible and containing invisible realities, both active and contemplative, both a resident in the world and a pilgrim at the same time” (25). In this structure, “ the human element tends to and depends upon the divine element, the visible realities tend to the invisible realities, activities must tend to contemplation, and what is present must tend to the future city” (26). Therefore, the Church is neither a purely spiritual entity, nor a purely human community, like other political, economic and social organizations (27). The Church is a unique reality, in which the visible is the sign and instrument of the invisible, and the invisible is embodied in the visible (28). Therefore, the sacraments and the hierarchical organization in the Church belong to the nature of the Church, founded by God Himself, not merely an external accident or initiated by humans. And this close relationship between the invisible and the visible element of the communion in the Church has made the Church a sacrament of salvation (29).

b. The indigenous character and inculturation

(8) In the mystery of the Incarnation, the Son of God has really integrated into the jewish culture. He lived as any other jews did, from the way he behaved according to its customs and habits to his daily activities, the only difference being that he brought to it the Good News which was Himself, in order to give a new and everlasting meaning to that culture. Indeed, the incarnated Son of God was known by the name “Jesus of Nazareth” (cf. Lk 4, 16; Mt 2, 23) (30). He was born into a family with its detailed genealogy (cf. Lk 3, 23-38; Mt 1, 1-17). He grew up and shared the same destiny with his country, He came into human history and fully accepted the human condition, except sin (cf. Heb 4, 15; Pl 2, 7).

In line with the model of the Incarnation mystery, the indigenous character has always associated with the presence of the Church in each and every region and in the heart of each people in the world. Indeed, “ the christians do not differ from others in languages, customs…” (31). In the same way, the Church in Vietnam can and must preserve as well as promote the particular traits of Vietnam, provided that it should not lose its nature of being the Church of Christ (32). This is also one of the feasible and effective ways of evangelization that greatly interests the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) (33). The Churh in Vietnam is making great efforts to discover the many noble values in the national culture, at the same time trying to express those values “ in prayers, songs, in liturgical celebrations, in daily life and in theological reflections and language” (34).

c. Going in company with the Vietamese people in all events of history

(9) Being incarnated, the Son of God was having dinner with Levi and others tax collectors, (cf.. Lk 5, 29), riding the same boat with his disciples on the stormy lake of Gallilee, (Mk 4, 37-38) and accompanying the two disciples to Emmaus (cf. Lk 24, 13-31) to make them ablaze with love and hope (cf. Lk 24, 32).

In the same way (35), the Church goes in company with men and women in every historical situation, shares responsibility in all cultural, social and even in economic and political aspects, so as to bring to it the Good News which has the power of transforming and improving men. In this light, the Church in Vietnam realizes that the motherland is the cradle in which the christian vocations grow (36), and the faithful live their faith in the spirit of going along with their fellow countrymen in their national cummunity : “ Our spirit of going in company is the spirit of the incarnation of our Lord, Jesus Christ. We accompany our fellow countrymen as true members of the national community, not as foreigners or strangers. Our accompaniment is not meant for gaining worldly power, but with Christ and like Christ, we become servants of God and of men” (37). Truly, the Church in Vietnam wants to accompany with all people, especially with those who are suffering, because it is convinced that God Himself is present in them (cf. Mt 28, 28) (38). In order to do that, the Church must learn “how to see other people the way Jesus Christ sees them” (39). So, when trying to live the Incarnation mystery, the Church in Vietnam will show to all people “the One” they are seeking in their hidden desire, (40) not as “the faith of the Church is being imposed upon others” (41), but as a manifestation of the presence of the Incarnate Son of God, when the Church lives the spirituality of the Lord’s Prayer, observing the Beatitudes and practicing Christ’s commandment of love (42).

d. The Paschal and pilgrim community

(10) The Church would not differ from a human organization, if it were not illumined by the Paschal mystery of Christ. Indeed, the Church was born out of the wounded side of Christ. By the cross, Christ destroyed all dividing walls and reconciled us with God. When resurrected, He himself gathered his scattered disciples and gave them the Holy Spirit (cf. Jn 20, 22). In the light of the Paschal mystery, the Church knows that a unique Good News was given to it - the Good News of Jesus Christ crucified - and all men can only be saved by Him (43). Christ alone can make suffering and even death become the way leading to life.

With the risen Christ, the only Savior, on its side (cf. Acts 4, 10-12; Gl 1, 7-9), the Church believes in the final victory of grace over sin, love over hatred (cf. Rm 5, 20; 8, 37). By the High Priest who has gone through suffering to become the source of eternal salvation (cf. Heb 4, 15-16; 5, 7-9), the Church realizes that, united with Christ’s sacrifice its sufferings will be transformed (cf. Rm 8, 18-19). Therefore, amid numerous difficulties, obstacles and even persecutions, the Church in Vietnam continues to go forward in peace and confidence. In suffering the disciples of Christ were happy to share the same fate with their Master (cf. l Pet 4, 13-14; 2 Tm 2, 8-13; Pl 1, 29; Mt 5, 11-12) (44). Truly, once united with Christ’s Paschal mystery, every suffering of any member in the Church will be sanctified and have salvific value. Old age, sickness and trials of all christians will always have their value in Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and can become sources of blessings for all the Church. The testimonies of so many martyrs and witnesses throughout the history of the Church in Vietnam prove that God’s power is manifested in the fragility of men. These testimonies help us be convinced more firmly that “the heart of all pastoral activities as well as all forms of apostolate is the union with Christ’s Paschal mystery” (45).

With that conviction, in the midst of the world the Church always walks as a witness to the eschatalogical hope heading toward the new heaven and the new earth (cf. Apoc. 21, 1-4; 2 Pet 3, 13). Living in history but the Church of Christ does not mean to settle here forever or to build castles in this world, on the contrary, the Church never ceases reaching up to the Kingdom of God. However, the Church never looks down upon human realities, but together with all men the Church positively builds the world in conformity with the Good News, preparing them to accept the Kingdom of God (46). The Church believes that all efforts that aim at building and developing human dignity, liberty, fraternity… all will be transformed when “ Christ hands over to the Father the eternal and universal Kingdom” (47), “full of love, justice and peace.” (48). Indeed, Jesus Christ himself is the future of the Church, a future which is resplendent and enduring. He is our hope and our very end” (49).

 

CHAPTER II: COMMUNION

THE CHURCH AS A SIGN AND INSTRUMENT OF UNITY BETWEEN MEN AND GOD
AND AMONG MEN THEMSELVES

(11) The history of salvation tends to the ultimate end, which is to gather all scattered children of God into one (cf. Jn 11, 52) in full communion between men and God and among men themselves (50). For where there is God, there is communion and where there is communion, there is God, therefore communion is a gift from God and also a responsibility on the part of men (51). Starting from the communion of the Holy Trinity, the Church is both a sign and instrument of the united love by becoming a witness to, and a school of communion (52).

1. Communion with God : foundation and condition of the communion among men

(12) Before praying for the unity of his disciples, Christ invited them to remain in the love of the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit (cf. Jn 15, 1-10). The vertical communion linking men with God is the foundation and condition essential to the horizontal communion among men themselves. Only when their whole selves and their lives are united with God by faith, hope and charity, will the faithful be able to perfect their relationship with others by human virtues. The united love with God should become a motive and criterium to the communion with others. Therefore, we can not create a lasting and authentic communion of men if the communion with God is deteriorating or lacking (53).

God wants that the Church responds to the grace of communion with Him by living and promoting the communion among the faithful in the Church, from which to become an agent to build the communion of all human family. In order to do that, the Church is nourished by the Word of God and by the body and blood of Christ, so that, acted upon by the Holy Spirit, the Church becomes the One it receives (54). Through different graces, the Holy Spirit unites all members in the Mystical Body by a lasting bond of unity among the faithful, to perfect the Church to the level of maturity and fullness of Christ (Ep 4, 11-13). In the salvific grace, the Holy Spirit unites all peoples by destroying all language barriers (cf. acts 2, 1-12) (55), at the same time, while breaking up the separation wall of hatred (cf. Ep 2, 16-17) the Father assembles all in Christ, so that God is all in all men (cf. Ep 2, 14-18). The Church was built as God’s developing Kingdom, through which the whole human race and all creation will be gathered fully at the end of time (56).

2. The Chursh as a sign of communion

(13) The Church realizes that it has the mission to respond to the desire of love and unity, which has long been men’s most profound desire, but often broken by separations caused by hatred and selfishness. Therefore, more than anyone else, the Church never wants itself to become the cause of conflict and violence. On the contrary, in all circumstances, the Church of Christ is determined to widen the road of unity to speed up the communion process among peoples; the Church always wants to act as a catalyst for communion, (57) when it brings to the world today Christ Himself, the Perfect Man, “nuclear” for a new humanity (58). That sign of communion, manifested particularly through the life of worship and the relationship among members of the People of God in the Church, will help the Church participate in building the unity of human community.

a. Communion with God

(14) God loves all those who belong to Him, He not only wants that they remain in His home forever (cf. Ps 23, 6), but also allows them to be one with Him in Jesus Christ. Therefore, the faithful should always crave for the encounter with God in their life of prayer and never cease to nurture their sense of worhsip and love. With their souls free of sins, the faithful are in permanent communion with God in grace, they fervently receive the holy communion and associate themselves with other members in the Body of Christ, they make their souls the temple of the Holy Spirit, they are joined by a love stronger than death with those now resting in Christ, who are either still being purified or already glorified.

To a some extent, the Vietnamese christians are known for their frequent praying and receiving the sacraments. However, the Church in Vietnam needs to create and renew its life of worship capable of linking faith with real life (59). For the renewal to be more profound, the Vietnamese faithful are called to read Holy Scripture, and, like the Virgin Mary, to frequently meditate the Word of God (60). It is by the Word echoeing in the house of the Church with its living tradition, not as a purely abstract knowledge, but as prayers which transform and create the communion, that we recognize the true face of Christ being the central personality of Revelation, not simply a theory or a noble ideal (61). Once absorbed in the Word of God, closely attached to it as their lasting food (cf. Jn 6, 27; Mt 4, 4; Apoc 10, 9; Gr 15, 16; Deut 8, 3), the Vietnamese faithful will walk firmly in all paths of life and the world when they carry out the prophetic mission (62). For that reason and in all circumstances, the Church in Vietnam needs to push forward the study, meditation and living the Word of God, taking this as the primary concern of all pastoral activities.

b. Communion between the Church in Vietnam and the Universal Church

(15) The Apocalysis describes the foundation of the heavenly Jerusalem being carved with the names of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb (cf. Apoc 21, 14). A genuine local Church must be apostolic, that is, it must be firmly united with the Apostles by being closely united with the Successor of St Peter, “principle and visible, lasting foundation of unity, with the college of bishops as well as with the faithful congregation” (63), in order to serve the unity in faith and life of all God’s People (64). The faithful congregation in Vietnam are always in communion with the Universal Church, with the Holy Father, St Peter’s Successor, by showing their reverence and sincere obedience. Pope Benedict XVI himself has praised this beauty of faith of the Church in Vietnam (65). This sincere loyalty comes from the very nature of the Catholic faith, not simply a diplomatic or social relation. Therefore, we should do our best to maintain and promote the unity with the Holy See; at the same time, the Holy See also respects and is sensible to the particular traits in the history and culture of the Vietnamese people.

In the perspective of the communion, the Church in Vietnam wants to foster the meeting and cooperation with other Churches in other countries, especially in Asia. The mutual cooperation among Asian Churches with many similarities in geography, culture, religion…will heighten the oneness of the Church and help speed up the evangelization in this immense continent, as expected by the Asian Synod of Bishops and the apostolic exhortation The Church in Asia.

c. Communion among all members of God’s People

(16) Living the mystery of communion is what the disciples of Christ in Vietnam should do everywhere and every time. The remark of non-christians on the community of the early Church in Jerusalem “Look, how much they love one another” or the nickname “the religion of love” referred to the first catholic community in Thang Long, always encourages the Vietnamese faithful to do more to present a Church as communion by promoting the relationship in charity among members of God’s People (66).

This communion is based on the sacrament of Baptism, by which all christians are equal, share the same life of grace just like the vine and its branches, share the same mission, therefore corresponsible in doing the mission, regardless of their difference in functions. Consequently, each diocese and each parish should be a congregation of corresponsibility, equality and active participation in the mission of Christ, but always with the conviction that their bishop is the leader, teacher and defender of faith, “principle and visible foundation of the unity in the local Church” (67). This requires that the Church should see to it that all members of God’s People take part in discerning and doing the will of God. For that reason, the FABC has suggested and called to build the Church of participation, in which all members of God’s People can fulfill their own vocations and roles, at the same time, take part in the common mission of the Church. The model “participation” comprises a sincere cooperation and active listening, sharing, discussing, reviewing, and evaluating different objectives as well as ways to achieve various pastoral projects. To participate also means that all members in the Church, in spite of their positions and functions, will responsibly take part in all activities of the congregation. There is no place for dictatorship or extreme democracy, because all must obey God and together they aim at the common end which is building and perfecting the congregation. The model the Church of participation will also help us find out the meaning of the signs of times and work together for the coming of the Kingdom (68).

In the next period, the model the Church of communion and participation should be proposed as a pastoral priority and measures must be taken to apply it effectively among priests, in parish organization as a family, and advocate a closer collaboration between dioceses, between dioceses and religious congregations and among religious congregations themselves (69). This communion and participation should also be carried out with concrete plans, such as common pastoral projects, mutual support and share of personnel, finance.

d. Building the communion in human community

(17) The Church in Vietnam wants to realize fully its mission of being a sign and instrument of communion among men, disregarding their differences in social class, culture or political ideology (70). Although they still have many shortcomings due to their limited capabilities, the Vietnamese Catholics, since their presence in this country, are and will be contributing positively to the communion among people in this land of Vietnam, especially through their works in social, medical and educational fields (71). Continuing this direction and following the example of their ancestors and witnesses of faith, the Catholics in Vietnam always cooperate with those people of good will to build and develop the environment where they live, in conformity with human dignity (72). That is also what the FABC has encouraged when talking about the “basic human communities”, in which the Christians are not only concerned of their religious life at the church, but are living seeds in social community (73).

When campaigning for the developing and making social setting more healthy, the Church in Vietnam does not mean to set up a political party (74), but is only interested in life and the total development of men, particularly the poor and the abandoned. For that reason, on the one hand, the Church does not agree to compromise with what is sinful and unjust; on the other hand, the Church always wants to help everybody to accept God’s mercy and forgiveness in Christ (75). By this way, the Church contributes to fostering a national unity which is above all racial, social or political differences.

 

CHAPTER III: MISSION

THE CHURCH IN VIETNAM AND THE MISSION OF EVANGELIZATION

(18) By nature the Church is missionary, therefore the Church cannot but evangelize (76). The grace of faith in one community or in an individual is always linked to the obligation and responsibilty of evangelization (cf. l Cr 9, 16) (77). As the apostolic exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi (Evangelization) points out, mission includes various works, not only evangelizing the pagans alone, but also evangelizing the faithful themselves and the social, cultural milieu where they live (78). So understood, to evangelize does not mean “to impose the faith of the Church on others” (79), but rather to share a great love (cf. Jn 3, 16; 15, 13), a love which goes to the end (cf. Jn 13, 1) to make the life of the disciples themselves reach its full meaning (Pl 3, 7-9) even when it cannot be expressed by words (80).

1. Carrying out Christ’s mission of love and service in Vietnam today

(19) The mission of love and service is linked with the nature of the Church, and the practice of charity is a particular activity of Christ’s disciples (81). Indeed, “the Church never dispenses itself from the practice of charity, as far as the organized activities of the faithful are concerned, and on the other hand, there will never be a situation in which the charity of each christian is not needed, because, aside from justice, man needs and will need love.” (82). St Augustine teaches that the faithful should praise God with all their whole selves, that is “not only your tongue and speech, but also your conscience, your life, your actions praise God… Who does not cease to lead a good life, he is praising God. You stop praising God when you stop living justly and pleasing God” (83).

Since the very moment when it started to be present in this country, the Church in Vietnam has chosen the way of love and service of its fellow citizens, trying to bring real happiness to them in the light of faith in Jesus Christ (84). The Vietnamese faithful are invited to worship God and to let the Holy Spirit lead them into the life of true worship associated with “visiting orphaned children and widows in distress and keeping themselves from the stains of the world” (James 1, 27), at the same time “promising to God to keep their conscience pure” (1Pet3, 21). Even when they were misunderstood and persecuted, many Vietnamese faithful still manifested their patriotism and love for everybody (85). Continuing the spirit of their brave witnesses of faith and charity, the Vietnamese Catholics always try to follow the way of meekness, forgiveness and construction of peace (cf. Mt 5, 1-10), to sincerely and humbly serve their fellow countrymen and women (86).

In the present situation as well as in the future, the Church in Vietnam needs to be more concerned about the service of life and the integral development of the person (87). The disciples of Christ can practice this loving mission of service by organizing and participating in charity works, helping the poor, the needy, especially those who are suffering from natural disasters and the like. At the same time, those responsible should pay more attention and find ways to upgrade the lives of the people through different moral and educational programs, in order to promote solidarity, compassion, truthfullness, responsibility, sacrifice and diligence, instead of violence, selfishness, hatred, lie, selfish enjoyment and looseness. The Church also needs to support programs of human formation, assist healthy and wholesome activities, build good friendships, mobilize all forms of recreation, culture and sports for different social groups. Besides, the Church also invites all members of the People of God to “faithfully get involved in order to build a society of justice, solidarity and equality” (88).

Through all charity and service activities, the Vietnamese Catholics, individuals as well as communities, want to introduce Christ to their non-christian fellows by their examples of life, knowing that people would prefer to listen to witnesses rather than teachers (89).

2. Doing the mission in dialogue and cooperation

(20) Springing from the mystery of communion, the Church’s missionary activities are always carried out in the spirit of dialogue and cooperation (90). In order to better serve a social group having various and different viewpoints, the Church tries to build up sincere and open exchanges, particularly in dialogue with other religions, with the national culture and with the poor.

a. With other religions

(21) The Church is ever convinced of the Holy Spirit’s silent but energetic and mysterious activities in religions. The Vietnamese people are not so narrow-minded but ready to accept exchanges and collaborations among religions (91). However, for different reasons, the Church in Vietnam still has many restrictions in dialogue with other religions and still has a lot to learn from the experiences of other Churches in Asia. The meeting and exchange with other religions will certainly offer many opportunities for cooperation for the betterment of society and advancement of men. On the other hand, through the dialogue and cooperation with other religions, the Church will be able to define its nature even more clearly and to be more convinced that Jesus Christ is the future of mankind, alpha and omega of the whole universe (97).

b. With the national culture

(22) By different means, the Church in Vietnam should study the essence of national culture, from which to find out ways to help the Good News permeate into the Vietnamese souls more easily, at the same time, looking for methods to express the Christian faith more suitably and effectively (93). The Vietnamese culture possesses many remarkable values and can become fovorable conditions for the Church in Vietnam to proceed with its mission of evangelization. Indeed, traditionally the Vietnamese culture respects mutual assistance, filial piety (94), at the same time highly appreciates hospitality, unselfish sacrifice, kindness, and especially always upholds the spiritual life (95). These are meeting points very familiar with Christ’s Good News, as well as with the christian way of life expressed in love, unity and internal contemplation. Besides, at the present time, the Vietnamese culture is meeting other modern cultural trends coming in from different places, trends which are closely linked to digital technology, mass media communication, together with the spreading of the so-called global culture deeply marked with relativism, consumerism, materialism. Through its enthusiastic and knowledgeable faithful, the Church does not evade but tries to dialogue with these new cultural and influential trends, so as to bring to them a “soul”, using the expression of pope Benedict XVI (96), in order to evangelize and open the way to the splendor of truth (97).

In this cultural dialogue, the Church also needs to pay attention to worldly realities, that is, the social, economic and political realities, and what is happening in this country in all areas. With respect, sincerity but also with straightforwardness and consistency, the Church in Vietnam is not hesitant to dialogue with the civil Government in whatever associated with the common good of the country and the people. In this dialogue, the Church should be the voice of those who have no voice, or who are not yet allowed to voice their opinions, should overcome all prejudices in order to stand witness to the truth and to the christian charity, a charity that believes everything, hopes everything (cf. l Cr 13, 1-13).

c. With the poor

(23) According to the Vatican Council II, the poor are not only objects for the Church to serve, but also subjects that somehow God uses to evangelize the Church (98). Therefore, the Church does not only look at the poor with the human eyes and sentiments, but from Christ’s vision, in order to discover that they are the friends who need love, and not only material things (99). At the same time, the Church recognizes that it has learned a lot from the poor and wants to offer them, first of all, a compassionate love and a sympathetic attitude and a sincere solidarity. In the perspective of the country rapidly changing, many forms of new poverty in culture, education, religion, affection, morality and economy have appeared and are urging the Church to be more sensible in order to respond to the various needs of the society today.

3. Fields that need our concern

a. Evangelization

(24) The Church in Vietnam is clearly aware that it is only a little flock, but always grateful to God for the grace of faith granted to it. This gratitude is associated with the concern for evangelization. Therefore, the Church encourages all faithful, individuals or congregations, to be interested not only in their catholic partners, but try to find ways to share the faith, to bring their fellow citizens to encounter with Christ and to accept His Good News. The Church also needs to consider evangelization as the center of all efforts in formation as well as in all pastoral, religious and charity activities…and wants to mobilize more personnel and resources for evangelization.

To evangelize is to proclaim Christ Himself and His Good News, as St Paul emphasizes : “ What we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ, and we are his servants” ( 2 Cr 4, 5). Indeed, “there would be no evangelization in its true sense if the name, the doctrine, the promises, the Kingdom and the Mystery of Christ the Nazarene, the Son of God, were not proclaimed” (100) At the same time, the Church is aware that to build unity and reconciliation, to promote solidarity and dialogue, to eliminate all prejudices and strenghten mutual trust, all are important elements in the mission of evangelization (101).

In order to fulfill this noble but no less difficult mission, all missionary activities should be asscociated with the life of prayer and meditation. Without profound experience of God in prayer and meditation, it will be very difficult to have success in evangelization. The apostolic exhortation The Church in Asia reminds us that : “ Asia is the cradle of many great religions, where individuals and peoples crave for spiritual things, the Church is invited to become a Church of prayer, a Church with a profound spiritual dimension, even when it has to engage itself to concrete conerns in sight. All christians need a missionary spirituality absorbed in prayer and meditation” (102).

b. Formation of personnel

(25) The basic element to make the Church’s activities effective depends upon the formation of personnel, in which the formation of the faithful ranks first. In the history of the Church in Vietnam, a group of Catechists (thầy giảng) was set up which included the faithful who dedicated their whole life for the teaching of catechism. In times of difficulty, it was these faithful who contributed so much to help the clergy in the service of the congregation and in the care of souls. Up to now, there is still a great number of enthusiastic faithful willing to commit themselves in apostolate works at mission stations in distant regions, as well as in various pastoral activities of the Church. Under the direction of Vatican Council II and the apostolic exhortation The Christian Laity, the Church in Vietnam needs to press for the formation and advancement of the faithful to help them live the faith with a better understanding of catechism, scripture and pastoral, including professional skills in social fields, so that the face of Christ as reflected on the Church in this country be more lively and attractive.

The Church in Vietnam is even more interested in the formation of priests and religious, because this greatly affects the future of the Church. This formation should lively harmonize the fourfold dimention : human, intellectual, spiritual and pastoral (103). The formation of priests and religious in the Church should not be after quantity but, above all, to form them into “true leaders and in conformity with God’s desire and with the Church’s teaching” (104). In order to achieve this goal, priests and religious must have the heart of good shepherds, with a profound love for Jesus Christ, accompanied by a zeal for the service of the Church, and a passion for the salvation of souls, nourished by the Word of God and the Holy Eucharist, with a pure conscience and a spiritual life reaching for perfection.
In the formation of priests and religious in Vietnam, it is necessary to have the pastoral dimension permeate in all study subjects and activities, so that future priests and religious will be equipped with more conviction, zeal for mission, ability to work together, sensibility to the signs of times and spirit of service.

c. Education

(26) The Church in Vietnam should necessarily consider education as one of its priorities, even today the Church as yet could not directly take part in institutional education. Education plays a specially important role, because without education the Good News can not penetrate into the life of the people, the country and culture. (105). As such, education here surpasses all vocational trainings and should not be limited only in schools, but aims at the integral development of human beings.

The Church wants to offer an integral education regarding the intellectual upgrading, closely associated with human and spiritual growth, with the purpose of leading people to meeting the Risen Christ, the Perfect Man. Indeed, the formation of faith must be a thread throughout, quintessense and end of all efforts in family, shool and parish education. Thus, the teaching of catechism is not meant only to channel abstract and boring knowledge to others, or simply limited to receiving the sacraments, but should lead them to encountering with Christ, by which the education of conscience, communion and kindness attains its perfection. In a society rapidly changing, education should be more sensible in order to recognize and respond to cultural and social changes.

The mission of education needs the cooperation from family to parish, from parents to teachers, from catechists to priests and religious. In particular, the family plays an intransferrable and irreplaceable role in the educational process which helps their children discover their vocation in the heart of the Church.

d. Mass media and social communication

(27) The country of Vietnam is witnessing the explosion of communication. Related to this explosion is the new culture with its new mass media, new language, new technology and new mentality (106). Indeed, today communication is a power capable of guiding the thinking and living of the people; it brings in many good things but, at the same time, can cause much damage and division. Being conscious of its role as the teacher of truth, the Church needs to be more brave and positive to go into this field, through professionally abled faithful, together with a pure conscience illumined by the Church’s social doctrine. If rightly and effectively utilized, communication can become useful means for evangelizing, for building fraternal love, spreading the truth and serving the Kingdom. Therefore, the Church needs to be much more interested in this aspect in its pastoral planning at diocesan as well as national levels. More personnel and working means are to be invested, at the same time, there must be collaborations between dioceses and religious congregations and between dioceses themselves.

e. The environment

(28) Vietnam’s economy is developing remarkably. However, the massive and somehow uncontrolled development of the indutrialization process, weakness in infrastructure, weakness in the sense of responsibility of the people regarding environmental hygiene, selfish search for material profits and corruptions, all these have made the national environment degrade seriously. Environmental pollution is causing consequences seriously affecting the life of the people. Moreover, even the long future of the country is being threatened, due to the exploitation and abuse of natual resources, which not only affects those now living but also future generations.

The environment would be gravely destroyed, as long as nature and natural resources were massively exploited simply for material gain and consumers’ satisfaction. Christians need to “diligently work not only to earn their living and to build human society, but also to glorify God and to develop the Kingdom right here on earth” (107). God does not give nature to our hands as to those merciless exploiters, but as to prudent and responsible managers (108). For that reason, to preserve and protect the environment is not something purely technological, but also a moral responsibility. The Church in Vietnam needs to study, meditate and carry out the teaching of the Church on responsibilities concerning the perfection of what has been created by God.

4. Concerns regarding Family, Youth, Immigrants

a. The family

(29) Inheriting the culture of filial piety, the Vietnamese faithful have built a firm tradition of faith closely related to family life. Family is the Church’s first and essential unit, so much so that it is called the Church at home. Many Vietnamese Martyrs have kept their last words for their families (109). The Pastoral Letters of the Vietnamese Bishops’ Conference have reflected their especial concerns on family pastoral (110). However, we have to admit that the material civilization of today has caused many bad impacts on the traditional family. Many catholic families are also affected.

Therefore, the Church in Vietnam needs to renew its pastoral programs to help, starting right from the families, form good, holy christians who are enthusiastic in all activities in their congregation, active in apostolate works and eager in seeding and recruiting priestly and religious vocations. Each parish should have pre-marriage and post-marriage courses, in order to accompany young couples in their married life, and be present with them in times of difficulty, invite all members of the family to sanctify themselves by upgrading pious, moral and human values of family life in the light of faith. Against the practice of divorce and abortion advocated by the modern society, the catholics are determined to make their family the Church at home, loyal in their marriage, love one another and receive the children as a precious gift from the merciful God and educate their children according to God’s commandments.

b. The Youth

(30) In recent years, the Church in Vietnam has had experiences that young people are being pushed away from it, due to social, cultural impact and the new way of life. The Church also knows that somehow it is losing them. Therefore, those who are responsible should renovate their pastoral plans to help young people have the right direction in their life, build up themselves and serve the Church and society. We need to promote the project “young people become apostles for young people” because they are not only objects of pastoral care, but they themselves are subjects active, ardent and creative in life as well as in the mission harvest of the Church. Parish, organizations and youth movements should get along with young people, not only in teaching catechism, but also in consultation and vocational guidance.

c. Immigrants and migrant workers

(31) The uneven development of the country has brought changes to some regions. In some places, only old people and children are left, while other regions have become too crowded due to a big number of immigrants. The change in residence has greatly disturbed religious, cultural, economic and social activities, both in the place from which they left and in the place they now settle, both to themselves and to their families. The Church in Vietnam must accept this sign of times and respond urgently and effectively. There should be long-termed pastoral plans to help these immigrants in time and in the right way, to assist them to integrate into the new milieu and into the local Church where they live. It is necessary to establish fraternal relations and sincere cooperations between dioceses and parishes, so that those who are responsible for pastoral activities for immigrants, particularly in family and educational matters, should be interested in serving the people, and not only in observing the law. Historical experiences teach us that, if well cared for, the immigrants themselves could be most positive and active agents in pastoral activities of the local Church, as well as in the work of evangelization.

 

PRAYER TO OUR LADY OF LAVANG

(32) Our Lady of Lavang,

We believe and acknowledge that You always assist and protect the Church in Vietnam in all stages of life, in times of peace as well as in times of sorrow, in joy as well as in difficulty and trial. You have supported and strengthened the faith of our ancestors, we now entrust to You our will and effort to renew the life of the Church in our country.

You have fully commended Yourself and Your life to God, teach us to foster the union with Jesus Christ as members with their head, attend the Holy Eucharist more ardently and actively, and humbly receive the grace of absolution in the sacrament of Reconciliation.

You have remembered the Word of God and frequently meditated in Your heart, help us to love and meditate the Word of God day and night, that the Word of God become our nourishing food and the light shining our way.

You were present at the Last Supper to support the apostles, teach us to receive one another, to build a Church of communion, by cooperation and corresponsibility in the mission, worthy of being the People of God, the Body of Christ and the Temple of the Holy Spirit.

You have hurriedly set out to visit Elizabeth and helped her in her childbearing, teach us to be mindful of the profound desires of others, especially the poor and the miserable, in order to love and to serve them.

Our Lady of Lavang, You are the ideal model of the Church, when totally given Yourself to the salvation plan of Jesus Christ as a humble housemaid (111). We entrust to You the directions and pastoral programs of the Church in Vietnam, as a testimony of our repentance and determination to follow Jesus Christ, Your Son. We entrust to You even our inevitable short- comings, convinced that no one praying to You without receiving Your help.

Please bless us and protect the Church of Christ in Vietnam now and forever. Amen.

FOOTNOTES

(4) Cf. Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on some apsects of the Church understood as Communion – Communionis notio, May 28, 1992; also cf. CBCV, Announcement 1986; Pastoral Letter 1989; John Paul II, Address to Vietnamese Bishops during Ad Limina, 1990; Bishops’ Committee for the Laity (CL) : under CBCV, Document : The role of the Laity in the Church in Vietnam during past 50 years, p. 1.

(5) Cf. Vat. II, LG 23; Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on some apsects the Church understood as Communion – Communionis notio, May 28, 1992, no 9; FABC I, 9 in For All Peoples in Asia, vol. I, Claretian Publications, Quezon (1992) p. 14.

(6) Cf. CBCV, Pastoral Letter 1989.

(7) CBCV, Pastoral Letter 1980, no. 9.

(8) CL under CBCV, Document : The role of the Laity in the Church in Vietnam in past 50 years.

(9) CL under CBCV, Document : The role of the Laity in the Church in Vietnam in past 50 years.
(10) Cf. John Paul II, Address to Vietnamese Bishops during Ad Limina, 24/11/1990, no. 6; CL under CBCV, Document : The role of the Laity in the Church in Vietnam in past 50 years.

(11) Cf. Vat. II, LG 9.

(12) Cf. Vat. II, LG 5.

(13) Cf. John Paul II, Address to Vietnamese Bishops during Ad Limina, 24/11/1990, no. 4- 6; CBCV, Pastoral Letter 1991, V –VII; CL under CBCV, Document : The role of the Laity in the Church in Vietnam in past 50 years, p. 2.

(14) Cf. Vat. II, GS 40 – 44; Paul VI, Evangelii nuntiandi (EN), no. 19 - 20; John Paul II, Redemptor hominis (RH), 12, 21; Benedict XVI, Deus caritas est (DCE), 21, 29; FABC IV, 1, 7 (For All, vol. 1, p. 275; CBCV, Pastoral Letter 1980; cf. CL under CBCV, Document : The role of the Laity in past 50 years, p. 7.

(15) Cf. John Paul II, Address to the Vietnamese Bishops during Ad Limina, 24/11/1990, no. 8; CBCV, Pastoral Letter 1989; Pastoral Letter 2001, no. 22; Announcement 1986; Bishops in South Vietnam, Lenten Letter 2/3/1960.

(16) Benedict XVI, Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum caritatis (SC) 14.

(17) Benedict XVI, SC 3

(18) Cf. Vat. II, LG 23; SC 41-42.

(19) Cf. Vat. II, LG 7

(20) Cf. Vat. II, LG 7, John Paul II, Dominum et vivificantem (DV), 2-3, 53-54.

(21) CBCV, Pastoral document in preparation for Jubilee 2000, II, b; also cf. John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio (RM), 21, 24-26, 37-38.

(22) Cf. CBCV, Pastoral document in preparation for Jubilee 2000, II, b; also cf. John Paul II, DV, 56, 6-7, 66.

(23) Cf. CBCV, Pastoral Letter 2003, no. 2; Lineamenta: The Church in Vietnam 2010, no. 8; LG 4; Paul VI, “Opening address of the Second Session” in Council Speeches of Vatican II, by Hans Kung, Yves Congar and Daniel O’Hanlon, Deus Books, NY (1964), p. 19; St Augustine, In Johannis Evangelium tractatus, 26,5; PL 35, 1609.

(24) Also cf. The Creed of Nicea-Constantinople.

(25) Vat. II, SC 2.

(26) Vat. II, SC 1; also CBCV, Pastoral Letter 1998, no. 6.

(27) Cf. Vietnamese Bishops, Pastoral Letter 1952; especially Pastoral Letter 1953, no. B.

(28) Cf. Vat. II, LG 8, Paul VI, The Teachings of Pope Paul VI, Publications Office, United States Catholic Conference, Washington D.C (1973), p. 284; CBCV, Lineamenta: The Church in Vietnam 2010, no. 12 (cf. footnote 22; also John Paul II, DV, 50).

(29) John Paul II, Ecclesia de Eucharistia (EE), 35.

(30) Cf. John Paul II, RH l, 7-9; Dives in Misericordia (DM) 2, 7: Benedict XVI, DCE 12.

(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).

(39) Benedict XVI, DCE 18.

(40) Cf. St Augustine, Confessions, vol. I, especially Confessions, III, 6, 11; John Paul II, DV 32; RH 9-17.

(41) Benedict XVI, DCE 31.

(42) Cf. Vat. II, LG 9; Benedict XVI, DCE 40-42, 32-35.

(43) Cf. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration Dominus Jesus (6/8/2000).

(44) Cf. CBCV, Pastoral Letter 2005, no. 9; Pastoral Letter 2004, no. 4.

(45) Benedict XVI, Address at Castel Gandolfo, 25 September, 2009.

(46) Cf. Vat. II, GS 38-39; Benedict XVI, Spe Salve (SS), 23-26; CBCV, Pastorall document in preparation for Jubilee 2000, II, second year : The Holy Spirit.

(47) Cf. GS 39.

(48) The Roman Missal, Preface of Christ, the King of Universe.

(49) CBCV, Pastoral Letter 1999, no. 2; also Vat. II, GS 45.

(50) Cf. Vat. II, LG 1; GS 45.

(51) Cf. Prayer “Ubi caritas Deus ibi est”; John Paul II, Ut unum sint, 5-6; Asian Bishops’ Meeting, 22, (For All, vol. 1, p. 6).

(52) Cf. John Paul II, Novo Millennio Ineunte 42.

(53) Cf. Benedict XVI, Sermon at Fatima, 14/5/2010; Address to Portugal Bishops 13/5/2010.

(54) Cf. St. Augustine, Sermo 227, 1 : PL 38, 1099; John Paul II, EE 22; Benedict XVI, SC 36-37.

(55) Cf. Benedict XVI, Sermon on the feast of the Holy Spirit; Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on some aspects of the Church understood as Communion – Communionis notio, May 28, 1992.

(56) Cf. Vat. II, LG 5; also St Ireneus, Adversus Haereses, 5. 20 (ANF p. 561), Adversus Haereses, 5. 12 (ANF p. 943), Adversus Haereses, V, 14, 1; cf. V, 14, 2.

(57) Cf. BISA VI, 18-19, (For All, vol. 1, p. 226-227); BISA VII, II-V, (For All, vol. 1, p. 178-198).

(58) Cf. Vat. II, GS 22; 45; also Benedict XVI, SC 11; sermon on the eve of Easter Sunday, 15/4/2006.

(59) Cf. Vat. II, GS 43.

(60) Cf. Vat. II, DV 25; PC 6.

(61) Cf. Synod of Bishops, Message to the People of God of the 12th Synod of Bishops, no. 4-10.

(62) Cf. Synod of Bishops, Message to the People of God of the 12th Synod of Bishops, no. 10-15.

(63) LG 23, extracted in Catechism of the Catholic Church no. 882.

(64) Cf. John Paul II, Ecclesia in Asia (EA) 25.

(65) Cf. Benedict XVI, Address to Vietnamese Bishops Ad Limina 2009.

(66) Cf. CBCV, Pastoral Letter 1989; Pastoral Letter 1992; John Paul II, Address to Vietnamese Bishops ad Limina 24/11/1990.

(67) Vat. II LC 23; also CBCV, Pastoral Letter 2004, no. 9; Lineamenta: The Church in Vietnam 2010, no. 21; FABC V, 8. (For All, vol. 1, p. 287).

(68) Cf. Roman Missal, Preface of Christ, the King of the Universe.

(69) Cf. Benedict XVI, Instruction to Vietnamese Bishops ad Limina 2009.

(70) Cf. Vat. II, LG 1; John Paul II, EA 24-25, 27.

(71) Paul VI, Message to Bishops, priests and faithful of Vietnam 1966; John Paul II, Address to Vietnamese Bishops ad Limina 24/11/1990.

(72) Cf. CBCV, Pastoral Letter 1980, no. 10; Pastoral Letter 1989.

(73) Cf. FABC I, (For All, vol. 1, p. 177-201), V (For All, vol. 1, 273-289).

(74) Cf. Bendict XVI, DCE 28; CBCV, Pastoral Letter 1991; The Vietnamese Bishops, Pastoral Letter 1952; Pastoral Letter 1953; Circular Letter 1964; Conference of Bishops in South Vietnam, Pastoral Letter 1976, no. 5.

(75) Cf. Vat. II, GS 28; John Paul II, DM 6; Benedict XVI, DCE, 18.

(76) Cf. Vat. II, AG 2.

(77) Cf. John Paul II, EA 31.

(78) Cf. John Paul II, EA 31

(79) Benedict XVI, DCE 31.

(80) John Paul II, EA 1; Benedict XVI, DCE; Paul VI, EN 26, 41.

(81) Cf. Benedict XVI, DCE 25-26; Telegram to the faithful of Argentina on August 15, 2010.

(82) Benedict XVI, Address to Vietnamese Bishops’ Conference, Ad Limina 2009; also DCE 19-24.

(83) St Augustine, Ps 148, 1-2; CCL 40, 2165-2166.

(84) Cf. Vietnamese Bishops, Pastoral Letter 1953 : “ Right at the end of the 16th century, the Catholic Church was present in Vietnam and has been active ever since. It was not by the will of men that the Church came to this country, but it was by the will of God, who founded the Church and gave the Church the mission of proclaiming the Good News […]. The Church has vested in human nature. The Church also tries to coordinate with the times and the place where she lives. For, if she did not get involved in the changes of history, in the development of the world, the Church would not be able to fulfill her spirital mission. […] But wherever there are rules of cult and worship, marriage, family, education, social security, in a word, wherever the soul of a people is being tested and educated, there the Church must be present.” Or “ We can also fulfill the duties of a truly patriotic citizen”; also cf. The Bishops in South Vietnam, Circular letter 1964; John Paul II, Message to the Vietnamese Bishops Ad Lamina on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of establishment of the Hierarchy (1960-1985), November 11, 1985.

(85) Cf. Fr. Dao Trung Hieu, OP, The Vietnamese Martyrs, www. http: //liendoanconggiao. net. For example, St Francis Nguyen Van Trung : “ I follow the religion of God, I am ready to go to the battle-field to fight the enemy of the country, but if you force me to give up my religion, I will never do it”; St Joseph Hoang Luong Canh did not stop praying for the local authorities, who persecuted him; Peter Nguyen Van Luu : “ I have kept my religion from childhood, it does not teach anything against the national laws, but what you tell me to do is contrary to right reason, I can not leave the Church and do as you tell me”; Michael Ho Dinh Hy : “ Your Majesty, I have served Your Majesty for 30 years, I have always loved my country and been loyal to Your Majesty.”

(86) Cf. CBCV, Prayer for Jubilee 2010.

(87) Cf. The Bishops in South Vietnam, Pastoral Letter, Lent 1960.

(88) Benedict XVI, Address to the Vietnamese Bishops Ad Limina 2009.

(89) Cf. Paul VI, EN 41.

(90) Cf. Conference of Bishops in South Vietnam (CBSV), Announcement 1966; Letter to all Catholic faithful in Vietnam 1973; Common Letter 1976; VBC, Common Letter 1989.

(91) Cf. CBCV, Circular letter 1969.

(92) Cf. Vat. II, GS 40; also CBCV, Pastoral Letter 1999, no. 2.

(93) Cf. CBCV, Pastoral Letter 1980, no. 11; Pastoral Letter 2001, no. 14; Pastoral Letter 2003, no. 9; Pastoral Letter 1998, no. 13.

(94) CBCV, Pastoral Letter 1998, no. 5.

(95) VBC, Pastoral Letter 1998, no. 6.

(96) Cf. Benedict XVI, Message on the International Social Communication Day, Janurary 24, 2009.

(97) Cf. John Paul II, Splendor veritatis 1-5, 54-63; Benedict XVI, Instruction to the Vietnamese Bishops Ad Limina 2009.

(98) Cf. Vat. II, GS 44; FABC/BISA VII, 11 (For All, vol. 1, p. 231-232); Consultation on Christian Presence Among Muslims in Asia, 14 (For All, vol. 1, p. 167-168).

(99) Cf. Benedict XVI, DCE 18.

(100) Paul VI, EN 22.

(101) Cf. John Paul II, EA 24.

(102) John Paul II, EA 23.

(103) Cf. John Paul II, Pastores dabo vobis 43-59.

(104) Benedict XVI, Address to CBCV, Ad Limina 2009; also Dialogue “question-answer” of priests with Benedict XVI at the closing of the Year of Priests, June 11, 2010.

(105) Benedict XVI, Address to the Catholic educators at the Catholic University of America, April 17, 2008; Address to the diocese of Rome January 21, 2008; Address to the members attending the Salesian General Council April 10, 2008.

(106) Cf. John Paul II, RM 37; Benedict XVI, Message on the International Social Communication Day, Janurary 24, 2009.

(107) The Roman Missal, Preface on The Third Day of the Lunar New Year – Sanctification of work.

(108) Cf. John Paul II, EA 41; Benedict XVI, Caritas in veritate.

(109) Cf. Fr. Dao Trung Hieu, OP, The Vietnamese Martyrs, www. http: // liendoanconggiao. net. Joseph Nguyen Van Luu : “ I am about to go into exile, I entrust to You, my God, everything that belongs to me, I am willing to offer You my greatest sacrifice – my family, You Yourself will take care of them.” Peter Dinh Quang Dung and Peter Dinh Quang Thuan calmly consoled and encouraged their wives and children to readily accept their sacrifice. Peter Dung said : “ Be glad because I sacrifice my life for Jesus Christ.” While Matthew Nguyen Van Phuong said : “ My dear children, don’t cry, don’t be sad. I am very fortunate. Try to live in harmony, love and help one another.” At the city judge’s mansion, there was a young clerk who fell in love with the daughter of the elder in the parish. He proposed that if the elder agreed to marry his daughter to him, he would try his best to set him free. The elder answered : “ I won’t marry my daughter to you, unless you were baptized. I never marry my daughter to a pagan, no matter who he is, because I am afraid that my daughter will lose her faith. If for that reason I have to die, I am ready.” Anthony Nguyen Huu Quynh told his children : “ I have taken care of you since you were little kids, now that you are already grown up, you will have to care for the family yourselves. I want to put aside this money which I earned from selling medicine to share with the poor.” And his last words : “ My regards to all officials and faithful of My Huong parish. Peace to all, be firm and loyal to your faith. Love one another and live piously, you will see me in heaven.” Andrew Nguyen Kim Thong’s children wanted to bribe the judge in order to get a lighter sentence to their father, but their father said : “ Let the will of God be realized.” At the exsecution site, Emmanuel Le Van Phung, putting the cross on her daughter’s neck said : “ My daughter, receive my souvenir. This is the image of Jesus Christ, our Lord. This image is much more precious than gold. Always carry it in your neck and pray to it, day and night.” “ My dear, forgive him. Don’t take revenge on the one who accused me!” That was the last will Emmanuel Phung gave to his son before being beheaded. The testimony of miss Mary Men about her father, Anthony Nguyen Dich : “ My father was very much concerned of the religious life of his 10 children and even that of the servants in the house. Each day he would appoint one or two children to watch over the house, while the rest went to mass. I believe that my father fulfilled all the religious obligations. He cared about his children’s education, invited tutors to teach the sons at home, refused to marry his daughters to young men of rich family but did not have a good religious life.” Thomas Nguyen Van De told his wife when she visited him in prison : “ Dear, don’t cry. Try to teach our children to live a good life, teach them to love God. I have entrusted you and the children to Him. Remember to pray to God for me that I may persevere until the end.”

(110) Cf. CBCV, Pastoral Letter 2002; Pastoral Letter 2006, no. 10; Pastoral Letter 2007, no. 28, 29; Lineamenta: The Church in Vietnam 2010, no 35-39.

(111) Cf. The Roman Missal, Preface Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Housemaid of God.