Archbishop of Hanoi Joseph Ngo Quang Kiet arrived in Rome on March 5 for medical treatment for chronic insomnia and stress.
The archbishop had been on medical leave at a monastery in Chau Son in Ninh Binh province since the beginning of January, VietCatholic News reports. He was invited to Rome by the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and the Pontifical Council of Cor Unum.
Upon his early morning arrival in Rome he was greeted by a group of Vietnamese clergy and religious men and women who were working in Rome.
His medical problems have been attributed to the pressure of his pastoral duties in his archdiocese, one of the largest in Vietnam.
The archbishop was overwhelmed by the scores of well-wishers who visited him in Vietnam to express their love and support.
According to VietCatholic News, Archbishop Joseph Kiet helped transform Lang Song diocese from “ruins” into “a viable, engaging Christian community” during his time as bishop there.
“His endless effort has left a long lasting impression on the minds of Lang Son faithful, and they came to Hanoi along with their new bishop just to tell him how much he means to them,” VietCatholic News reports, adding that Hanoi faithful felt similarly.
During devastating Hanoi floods two years ago, victims witnessed the archbishop with his pants rolled above his knees, walking with a cane to those affected to console them and to deliver emergency supplies.
Reports of the archbishop’s departure from his Hanoi office prompted speculation the defender of religious freedom had been removed in response to the communist government’s demands. Archbishop Joseph Kiet dismissed the rumors and urged Catholics to trust in God.
“If God's willing, he will bless me with good health so I can return to serve you all. As for how long will the treatment be, let’s leave it to the clinic and the doctors to decide,” he said.
Before his departure for Rome, a delegation from North Vietnam’s Diocese of Vinh had visited the prelate. He told them that as priests “we have no one else to fear but God. So if that is what God wants, we will serve in faith, not in fear.”
He urged his congregation to keep speaking “in truth and solidarity” by living “in communion with others among our Church.”
“Anything you do, entrust your faith in God, relying on his blessing and his power to obtain lasting peace. Your prayers and solidarity are the weapons of our Church."
Cardinals from various pontifical congregations have also delivered their good wishes to the archbishop, expressing hope for his quick recovery.
Archbishop Joseph Kiet underwent a preliminary physical exam by Vatican doctors the day of his arrival and is now awaiting admission to a clinic.