Monday, 3 November 2003

Hanoi (Fides Service ) – Follow the example of Jesus who preached tirelessly and everywhere; announce the Word with courage and enthusiasm; make use of modern means of communications and new technology: these demands of evangelisation today are outlined by the Catholic Bishops of Vietnam in a Pastoral Letter entitled: “The Mission of the Church in Vietnam today to proclaim the Good News”, issued after the annual Plenary Meeting of the Bishops’ Conference in October at Bai Dau Marian Shrine some 1800 south of Hanoi.
The Letter presents the local Church with a programme for mission in the coming years involving clergy, religious, seminarians and laity. In the Letter the Bishops also express gratitude to God for the 25 years of Pope John Paul II’s pontificate and mention the next International Eucharistic Congress in 2004 in Mexico.
With regard to evangelisation in Vietnam, the Bishops remind the faithful that to proclaim the Good News “is a grace, a special calling and it expresses the very nature of the Church which draws its origins from the Holy Trinity’s loving work of salvation.”
The Bishops encourage all Catholics, clergy, religious and laity to respond to this calling by following the example of the Lord Jesus and being his messengers: “He never tired of announcing the Good News, he spoke to all kinds of people and worked numerous miracles to show that the Kingdom of God is at hand.”
The Bishops also urge the people to be faithful to the traditions of the Church, taking the early Church as a model while putting into practice the teaching offered by the Church of today. They remind Catholics in Vietnam that, as the Pope says in the post synodal exhortation Ecclesia in Asia, Asia has a special task in evangelisation in the third millennium.
Thanking God for the many missionaries who brought the faith to Vietnam in the past with courage, the Bishops call on Vietnamese Catholics to now follow in the missionaries’ footsteps with enthusiasm and commitment. They urge the people to “rediscover the enthusiasm of the Apostles at Pentecost and the early Christian communities who lived in harmony and shared with Gospel with people of every trine, language and nation.” Catholics today, the Bishops say, “must have the courage to go to new places where the Good News has never been told and to use new means and modern technology for the mission of evangelisation”.
At the end of the Letter the Bishops offer a few practical indications: at the spiritual level, prayer for evangelisation, in families in communities; a life of witness before verbal preaching; visit people of other religions and install dialogue; form a special evangelisation commission in every diocese; keep contact with isolated missions and villages; promote works of charity and human development.
The Bishops conclude the Letter with a prayer: “May the Holy Spirit pour forth abundant grace for a new season of Pentecost to produce a great harvest of faith in this vast and vital and in our beloved homeland Vietnam”. (PA) (Fides Service 3/11/2003 lines 46 words 490)