ASIA/VIETNAM - "Towards a Church of communion, participation and mission": priests reflect on the teaching of the pope

Friday, 16 September 2022

Hanoi (Agenzia Fides) - An opportunity for Vietnamese priests to meet, share and exchange impressions, talk about their mission, responsibilities in pastoral service and the difficulties of priestly life. But also "to live in a spirit of fraternity in the presence of God, to draw on his grace and return to him, then to resume the path in a synodal style": it is with these words that Joseph Vu Van Thien, Archbishop of Hanoi, illustrates the spiritual retreat experience reserved for Vietnamese priests, organized in two stages (September 12-14 and September 15-17) in the province of Thanh Hoa (North Vietnam) in the presence of numerous bishops and more than 800 priests from 11 dioceses of Vietnam, calibrated on the style and contents of the Synod on synodality and therefore entitled "Towards a Church of communion, participation and mission".
"This experience of study, prayer, confrontation, based on the Word of God and the texts of the Pope's Magisterium, explains Mgr. Van Thien, is intended to help priests to deepen their understanding of the teaching of the Church, in particular that of Pope Francis on pastoral care, liturgy and the service of charity in each local community". Furthermore, this retreat offers guidance especially for the missionary aspect of priestly life".
Among the various contributions made to the assembly, Bishop Thomas Vu Dinh Hieu, of the Diocese of Bui Chu, addressed the topic of "Sexual abuse of minors by the clergy", noting: "Priests are also fragile and weak, one must therefore be aware of one's weakness, pray to entrust oneself to God, and ask for his help". When crimes of sexual abuse of minors are committed, "there is an evident crisis of faith, a moral crisis, an educational crisis", he observed. However, "there may also be cases of defamatory acts and slander aimed at destroying the Church", he recalled. The Bishop urged priests to "be humble and trust, day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute, in the love of God, the divine strength that guides every priest through the crises and challenges that await him".
During the Mass celebrated during the spiritual retreat, Bishop Vu Van Thien emphasized the theme of faith, referring to the faith of the centurion, as it emerges from the Gospel of Luke (Lk 7, 1-10), and declared: "Faith does not depend on rank, culture, wealth; faith does not depend on a state of life, but is a gift from God: faith is in a faithful heart, which puts its trust in God, with the certainty that nothing is impossible with God and that He can do everything". "We priests, who in Vietnam preach and teach the faith and celebrate it, must live it fully and deeply, anchored in God who is the rock of our salvation and our life," he said. During these days of formation, reflection and prayer, according to Archbishop Joseph Vu Van Thien, priests can "take the time to reflect on their faith, to come to their senses, to renew their covenant with God and to return to Him which is the source of the faith and of the priestly vocation".
"The work of renewal of the Church, observed the participants, starts precisely from the priests, because a zealous priest, who always turns to God and always works in faith, contributes to bringing many spiritual benefits to the people of God". When the life and heart of the priest are renewed, the Church is renewed".
The Vietnamese priests present were guided, during further in-depth sessions, to relive and actualize the episode of the Gospel of Luke (Lk 7, 11-17) in which Jesus performs the miracle by reviving the son of a widow in the town of Nain, showing God's unconditional and merciful love. "As Vietnamese priests - said the retreating priests - we are called to trust in the immense Providence of God, especially when we face difficulties or adversity in our pastoral ministry in Vietnam. God does not abandon his people, but he intervenes by giving his grace, because he knows the needs of each one, and he works wonders in our lives". (PA/AD) (Agenzia Fides, 16/9/2022)