ASIA/VIETNAM - Faith in Christ during military service, with the help of new technologies

Friday, 26 March 2021 faith   military   spirituality  

Hanoi (Agenzia Fides) - Technology to support faith, not only to respond to the pandemic emergency: this is the experience of many young Catholics in Vietnam who, called to fulfill their military service, find themselves unable for to survive for 18 months a regular spiritual journey. According to what local sources indicate to Agenzia Fides, thanks to the ever greater diffusion of the Internet and technological devices, Catholics are able to participate in Mass live or to access Bible readings. It is a support which helps to keep the faith alive even in a context very distant from the Church such as that constituted by the Vietnamese armed forces.
In Vietnam, military service is still compulsory and affects thousands of young people between the ages of 18 and 25 every year.
Enlistment is generally preceded by a ritual that takes place in early March. The period of active service is a time particularly feared by Catholic families. During the 18 months spent in uniform, the young people live in barracks far from inhabited centers and churches and have little chance of praying and receiving the sacraments and thus experience a long period away from faith. In addition, many Catholic soldiers, moved by the desire to find future employment in the armed forces even after their military obligations, declare themselves non-religious for fear of being excluded from the Communist Party. The percentage of Catholic soldiers who remain steadfast in the faith in these difficult circumstances is therefore very low. In this context, smartphones and the Internet represent valid spiritual comfort and a means of closeness to the community of the faithful.
Although the spiritual life of the enlisted still has a low priority in the Vietnamese military world, the government has recently shown greater openness, recognizing that it has gained many recruits through renewed collaboration with members of various religious organizations. Among them, many young Catholics who feel called to unite in the efforts of the nation to build a context of unity, development and peace. (AD-LF) (Agenzia Fides, 26/3/2021)