Vietnam bishops attend their national meeting from Oct. 12-16 in Ho Chi Minh City. (Photo courtesy of hdgmvietnam.com)
Bishops in Vietnam have called on Catholics to spread communion in the Church by using social media to build a civilization of love and life.
Some 27 archbishops and bishops attended their biannual meeting from Oct. 12-16 at the Pastoral Center in Ho Chi Minh City.
They said the local Church is marking the 60th anniversary of the Vietnam Church Hierarchy. On its foundation in 1960, the Church had 1.5 million Catholics from 17 dioceses but now it has 7 million members from 27 dioceses.
They said the number shows the local Church’s sign of being fully grown, although evangelization work is still limited.
“Let’s thank God, who is the source of graces, and be grateful to our ancestors who offered us their valuable legacy by their blood, sweat and tears for the faith,” the bishops said.
They said Catholics should live out and develop communion in the Church and the mission to be light and salt in the world.
They said the Vietnam Church always keeps its communion with popes, the universal church and maintains communion within itself.
Noting that communion in the Church is to fortify the civilization of love and life, the bishops called on Catholics to “actively provide emergency aid for victims of severe floods in central provinces and adopt health preventative measures to stem the Covid-19 pandemic and build a healthy society.” The bishops had to cancel their meeting in April due to the deadly coronavirus pandemic.
Church leaders asked the faithful to use social media to serve truth, love and communion for holistic human growth. They warned that many people use media to provoke division rather than unity, incite hatred not love, and cause confusion instead of truth.
They should imitate newly beatified Carlo Acutis, who used the internet to spread Good News among his internet users.
The bishops also declared the year 2021 as “walking with youths in family life.”
They said family is a place where young people practice their basic relationships with God, filial ties with their parents and fraternal ties with their brothers and sisters.
“Family is also a place where youths learn human values such as honesty, generosity, service and responsibility,” they said.
“We wish youths and your parents look after your families as home of prayer, love and training fully grown people,” the bishops said in their pastoral letter issued after their meeting.
During their five-day meeting, they assigned Bishop Alfonse Nguyen Huu Long of Vinh to head Vietnam Missionary Society with a five-year term. They decided to establish a national library based at the bishops’ headquarters in Ho Chi Minh City.
Bishop Joseph Nguyen Duc Cuong of Thanh Hoa, head of the Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace, suggested plans to teach social teaching of the Catholic Church to local people soon.
Bishop Thomas Vu Dinh Hieu of Bui Chu, head of Caritas Vietnam, offered 1 billion dong (US$43,000) to Archbishop Joseph Nguyen Chi Linh, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Vietnam, to provide emergency aid for victims in flood-stricken Hue Archdiocese and the dioceses of Da Nang and Ha Tinh.
Archbishop Joseph Vu Van Thien of Hanoi, deputy secretary general of the bishops’ conference, said Singapore-based Archbishop Marek Zalewski, non-resident pontifical representative to Vietnam, could not attend the meeting due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The Vatican envoy sent them a letter giving guidelines on the importance of priestly formation and faith practices during the pandemic in Vietnam.
Archbishop Thien said the meeting aims at giving pastoral directions to meet local Catholics’ religious needs based on the country’s 27 dioceses’ situations.