Guidance needed to steer them clear of life’s worst temptations, assembly told
Vietnamese bishops at their assembly from Sept. 30 to Oct. 4 in Hai Phong City. (Photo courtesy of hdgmvietnam.com)
Bishops in Vietnam have announced plans to help young Catholics live a full life, grow up in holiness and get involved in social and church activities in the coming three years.
The announcements were made at an assembly held in Hai Phong Diocese in Hai Phong City from Sept. 30 to Oct. 4. They also elected heads of episcopal commissions, made cases for foreign missionaries to be canonized and planned celebrations to mark the 60th anniversary of the local Church.
The gathering, which is held every three years, was attended by 28 active bishops from the country’s 27 dioceses, plus Archbishop Marek Zalewski, non-resident representative of the Holy See to Vietnam, and Emeritus Cardinal Archbishop Peter Nguyen Van Nhon of Hanoi.
They said they wanted to listen to youngsters’ life experiences and work with them to discern God’s will and help them act to live their lives to the full.
They said Christian youths had been badly affected by migration and social media. They also felt individualism and consumerism had made youths lose their direction in life and pushed them into abusing drugs, alcohol, having abortions, same-sex relationships, violent acts and insensitivity to other people.
“Youth is a grace and gift that young people should receive with gratitude and good manners, not waste them,” bishops said in an open letter to local Catholics.
Guidance on their journey
Young people should develop abilities given by God so that they can become fully rounded grown-ups, they said.
The prelates proposed youth ministry programs for the coming three years starting in 2020: journeying with youths towards their holistic maturation, in their family life, as well as their church and social life.
They suggested youths should be given opportunities to study Youcat (catechism for youths), Docat (social teaching for youths) and Christus Vivit, Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation to youths.
They offered spiritual discernment and psychological advice and asked local dioceses to celebrate youth days on Palm Sundays — or other suitable days — and stage a national day for youths as suitable closure for the three-year pastoral program. The bishops also encouraged youngsters to offer facilities and pastoral guidelines to those living away from their families.
These latest pronouncements carried an echo of 2010 when bishops also urged priests, religious and parents to help young people grow up physically, psychologically, spiritually and culturally, and to recognize and respond to God’s call.
During their 14th such assembly since the first was held in 1980 (after the country’s 1975 reunification under communist rule), bishops re-elected Archbishop Joseph Nguyen Chi Linh as president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Vietnam and Bishop Peter Nguyen Van Kham of My Tho as secretary general of the conference. They also elected heads of 17 episcopal commissions.
Bishop Joseph Nguyen Duc Cuong of Thanh Hoa was elected head of the Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace, replacing Dominican Bishop Paul Nguyen Thai Hop of Ha Tinh, who will reach the retirement age of 75 in 2020, while Jesuit Bishop Cosme Hoang Van Dat of Bac Ninh replaced Salesian Bishop Peter Nguyen Van De of Thai Binh, who will turn 75 in 2021.
The bishops also discussed plans to file sainthood cases on behalf of three late French bishops: Lambert de la Motte and Francois Pallu, the country’s first bishops, and Bishop Jean Cassaigne, who served lepers in central Vietnam until his death in 1973.
Finally, they made plans to mark the 60th anniversary of the creation of the Vietnamese Church Hierarchy in 2020. The Church in Vietnam had 6.7 million Catholics out of the country’s population of 96 million in 2018.
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