Bishops in Vietnam have asked Catholics in a fast-changing society to provide pastoral care to internal migrant couples as well as families facing difficulties such as marriage break-ups. Church leaders, in a Sept. 28 pastoral letter, said due to economic difficulties, many family members had to move to big cities from their regional and rural homes to try to earn a living. Only a few succeeded while most continued to struggle financially, including to pay the education costs of their children. The Church treated those who divorced and remarried with motherly love, the bishops said following a Sept. 24-28 national meeting of representatives from 26 dioceses in My Tho City of southern Vietnam. The bishops urged Catholics to be sympathetic in relation to marriages breaking-up because adverse circumstances were often the main cause, rather than mistakes of the couples involved. On average, Vietnam records 60,000 cases of divorce
per year, mostly of young couples, according to the Institute for Family and Gender Studies. The bishops said that religiously mixed marriages sometimes ran into difficulties due to a lack of shared beliefs, including in relation to the faith education of children. Catholic spouses needed support to "present Jesus" to family members and neighbors. The bishops also noted that people who moved away from their family homes often found it hard to integrate into new parishes. They urged local Catholics to openly receive them, so the newcomers could deepen their faith and overcome challenges. The bishops at the My Tho City meeting also discussed preparations for the 'Synod of Bishops on Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment
' taking place at the Vatican Oct. 3-28. Bishop Joseph Do Manh Hung
, apostolic administrator of southern Ho Chi Minh City Archdiocese, and Auxiliary Bishop Peter Nguyen Van Vien of Vinh
in central Vietnam, are scheduled to attend the synod.