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Vatican envoy visits northern dioceses

Archbishop urges local Catholics to deepen their faith, study Church teaching

Children of lepers giving cultural performance to visiting Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli (second from right) at a state-run leprosarium on June 7 Children of lepers giving cultural performance to visiting Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli (second from right) at a state-run leprosarium on June 7
  • ucanews.com reporter, Bac Ninh city
  • Vietnam
  • June 8, 2011
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The non-resident pontifical representative for Vietnam, who has been visiting northern dioceses, yesterday urged Catholics in Bac Ninh diocese to follow their ancestors’ martyrdom and remain united in the Church.

Some 1,000 Catholics attended a special Mass concelebrated by Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli, Jesuit Bishop Cosme Hoang Van Dat of Bac Ninh and 40 priests at the square in front of the bishop’s house in Bac Ninh city on June 6. The celebration aimed to mark the feast of 12 martyrs of Bac Ninh and the 128th anniversary of the diocese’s establishment.

“Your ancestors set shining examples of martyrdom to you, so you all should follow them by staying absolutely faithful to Christ and promoting unity in the local Church,” Archbishop Girelli told the congregation.

The Italian archbishop noted that foreign Jesuits brought seeds of Good News to local people as early as 1640 and Bac Ninh is a cradle of Vietnamese culture and traditions. Many local Catholics died for their faith during the 19th century’s religious persecution. 12 of them were canonized on June 19, 1988, he added.

The Vatican envoy also urged local Catholics to deepen their faith, study Church teaching and do charitable work so as to face enormous challenges of materialism and consumerism. The diocese should urgently train priests, Religious, catechists and lay leaders to meet pastoral needs, he added.

Bishop Dat told Archbishop Girelli that “Although Pope Benedict XVI is not resident in Vietnam, he is resident in the heart of local Catholics.”

Bac Ninh diocese has 125,000 Catholics served by 60 priests.

During his June 5-7 visit to the diocese Archbishop Girelli also visited two local parishes and met local Catholics, priests and Religious. They also visited and offered gifts to lepers at a state-run leprosarium and orphans, elderly people and people with physical disabilities at a Church-run home.

Bishop Dat said Archbishop Girelli plans to visit four other northern dioceses of Lang Son, Bui Chu, Hai Phong and Thai Binh before he leaves the country on June 18.

This is the second visit to Vietnam Archbishop Girelli has paid since he was named non-resident pontifical representative for Vietnam in January.

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