.- The Holy Father has sent a message to Vietnamese Catholics who recently opened their Jubilee Year marking the 350th anniversary of Catholic vicariates in the country. In the text, made public today, the Pope encouraged evangelization and the promotion of reconciliation.
In his letter, addressed to the Vietnamese bishop’s conference, the Pope remarked that the opening of the year coincided with the feast of the 117 Vietnamese martyrs. He expressed hope that their courageous example “may help the People of God in Vietnam to intensify their charity, increase their hope and consolidate their faith, which daily life sometimes tests very harshly."
The Holy Father likewise recalled how the opening celebrations took place at So-Kien in the archdiocese of Hanoi, location of the first apostolic vicariate in Vietnam, and expressed the hope that this site may become "the center for a profound evangelization which brings Vietnamese society the Gospel values of charity, truth, justice and rectitude. Such values, if lived following Christ, take on a new dimension which surpasses their traditional moral sense, because they are anchored in God Who desires the good and happiness of all creatures."
"The Jubilee Year," he wrote, "is a time of grace in which to reconcile ourselves with God and our fellow man. To this end, we should recognize past and present errors committed against brothers in the faith and against fellow countrymen, and ask for forgiveness. At the same time, it would be appropriate to commit to increasing and enriching ecclesial communion, and to building a more just, united, equal society through authentic dialogue, mutual respect and healthy collaboration. The Jubilee is also a special time given to us to renew the announcement of the Gospel to everyone, and to become, to an ever greater degree, a Church of communion and mission."
The Holy Father concluded the message by assuring the religious and Catholic laity in the country that they are “ever present in my thoughts and daily prayers.” Turning to the bishops, he encouraged them "to bear witness with courage and perseverance to the greatness of God and the beauty of life in Christ."