Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli holding a statue of Our Lady of La Vang, given to him by Catholics in Bui Chu diocese.
VIETNAM – The non-resident pontifical representative to Vietnam has urged Catholics to preserve their religious heritage and witness to their faith during his second visit to the communist country.
“You should cherish and preserve centuries-old Catholic traditions and the rich heritage that has evolved through your ancestors’ faith in what is a fast-changing society,” Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli told 5,000 Catholics who welcomed him on June 13 at the Shrine of the Holy Family at Kien Lao in Bui Chu diocese.
He also urged young Catholics to live a moral life, practise their faith and faithfully serve the local Church whose future lies in their hands.
The shrine, in northern Vietnam is believed to be the cradle of Catholicism in the country. According to Royal Vietnamese records, a European missioner called Ignatius preached Catholicism there in 1533.
Archbishop Girelli also visited the 300-year-old house of the Lovers of the Holy Cross congregation in Kien Lao. He offered incense at the altar of French Bishop Pierre Lambert de la Mote who established the congregation there in 1670.
On June 9, Archbishop Girelli urged Catholics in Hai Phong diocese to study Church teaching. About 3,000 Catholics in traditional dress welcomed him at the Cathedral in Hai Phong.
The visiting archbishop concelebrated Mass with Bishop Joseph Vu Van Thien of Hai Phong and 50 priests.
“To evangelise people effectively, you all should study the Bible and Church teachings and bear witness to Christian values in your daily life,” Archbishop Girelli said.
The Vatican envoy also met 50 priests and 150 seminarians and Religious at the bishop’s house. He urged them to live a holy and humble life by following the example of the late Vietnamese Cardinal Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan, who was imprisoned for 13 years by the communist government.
Bishop Thien said he hoped Archbishop Girelli’s visit would revive the spirit of evangelisation among local Catholics and promote solidarity and understanding between the diocese and the Holy See.
On June 6, 1,000 Catholics attended a special Mass concelebrated by Archbishop Girelli, Jesuit Bishop Cosme Hoang Van Dat of Bac Ninh and 40 priests at the square in front of the bishop’s house in Bac Ninh city
The celebration was to mark the feast of 12 martyrs of Bac Ninh and the 128th anniversary of the diocese’s establishment.
“Your ancestors set shining examples of martyrdom to you, so you all should follow them by staying absolutely faithful to Christ and promoting unity in the local Church,” Archbishop Girelli told the congregation.
The papal envoy, who is based in Singapore, visited a total of five dioceses in the north during his June 9-18 trip.
He had made an earlier trip to the country in April. - UCANEWS.COM