VATICAN CITY, 26 NOV 2009 (VIS) - Vietnam is celebrating a Jubilee Year to commemorate 350 years since the foundation of the apostolic vicariates of Tonkin and Cochinchina, and fifty years since the creation of the Catholic hierarchy in the country. The Holy Father has joined the commemoration, sending a Message to Bishop Pierre Nguyen Van Nhon of Dalat, president of the Episcopal Conference of Vietnam.
In the text, dated 17 November, Benedict XVI notes how the opening of the Jubilee coincided with the feast of the 117 Vietnamese martyrs and expresses the hope that "the recollection of their noble witness may help the People of God in Vietnam to intensify their charity, increase their hope and consolidate their faith, which daily life sometimes tests very harshly".
The Pope likewise recalls how the opening celebrations took place at So-Kien in the archdiocese of Hanoi, location of the first apostolic vicariate in Vietnam, and expresses the hope that this site may become "the centre for a profound evangelisation which brings Vietnamese society the Gospel values of charity, truth, justice and rectitude. Such values, if lived following Christ, take on a new dimension which surpasses their traditional moral sense, because they are anchored in God Who desires the good and happiness of all creatures".
"The Jubilee Year", he writes, "is a time of grace in which to reconcile ourselves with God and our fellow man. To this end, we should recognise past and present errors committed against brothers in the faith and against fellow countrymen, and ask for forgiveness. At the same time, it would be appropriate to commit to increasing and enriching ecclesial communion, and to building a more just, united, equal society through authentic dialogue, mutual respect and healthy collaboration. The Jubilee is also a special time given to us to renew the announcement of the Gospel to everyone, and to become, to an ever greater degree, a Church of communion and mission".
Benedict XVI concludes his Message by greeting religious and laity in Vietnam who, he writes, "are ever present in my thoughts and daily prayers", and by encouraging bishops "to bear witness with courage and perseverance to the greatness of God and the beauty of life in Christ".
MESS/JUBILEE/VIETNAM:NGUYEN VIS 20091126 (380)