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New Hanoi archbishop installed

Now Archbishop Joseph Vu Van Thien will have to grapple with heated disputes over confiscated church land and properties
New Hanoi archbishop installed

New Archbishop Joseph Vu Van Thien of Hanoi celebrates his installation at St. Joseph Cathedral on Dec. 18. (Photo courtesy of Hanoi Archdiocese)

Published: December 19, 2018 05:35 AM GMT
Updated: December 19, 2018 05:44 AM GMT

A new archbishop of Hanoi, Vietnam's capital, has been installed amid heated disputes with the government over former church properties.

Archbishop Joseph Vu Van Thien, 58, was Dec. 18 installed as the sixth archbishop of Hanoi at St. Joseph's Cathedral.

Present at the special Mass were Archbishop Marek Zalewski, non-resident representative of the Vatican to Vietnam, and Monsignor Antoine Camilleri, under-secretary for the Holy See's Relations with States.

Monsignor Camilleri travelled to Vietnam on an official visit for talks with the government on relations between the Vatican and Vietnam.

Cardinal Peter Nguyen Van Nhon, former archbishop of Hanoi, Archbishop Joseph Nguyen Chi Linh, president of Catholic Bishops' Conference of Vietnam, other bishops and thousands of priests, Religious and lay Catholics also attended the ceremony.

"I am really happy to be welcomed warmly by all of you," Archbishop Thien told a gathering in the capital before the Mass.

"I feel moved at your love for me today."

He stressed that church leaders must serve people according to Jesus' spirit of service.

"I come here as a servant sent to receive the archdiocese like my family," he said.

"I need your prayers, solidarity and support for my new mission."

Archbishop Thien added that he would fail in his mission if he did not have cooperation from all of God's people.

"Please pray for me to have graces of sagacity, bravery and strength to recognize God's will and meet expectations of the lambs," he said.

Some Catholics told ucanews.com that Archbishop Thien is expected to try to help solve ongoing disputes between the archdiocese and the government over former church properties that were confiscated.

They said Archbishop Thien gained practical experienced on how to deal with issues involving former church properties and facilities while serving for 16 years in the diocese in the port city of Hai Phong.

There he took back possession of Hai Dương Martyrs Shrine, a former house for retired clergy, and the Ba Dong minor seminary building.

The now archbishop of Hanoi also ordained some 70 priests, opened 40 new parishes, re-established Catholic associations and promoted charitable activities.

Thirteen priests from Hanoi Dec. 7 had a formal dialogue regarding government construction at an old church school with officials from the People's Committee of Hoan Kiem District. The priests said the district had violated the church's rightful land ownership and ignored an urgent petition against the building project submitted last month.


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