Ho Chi Minh City (Agenzia Fides) - Walking together in following Christ. This has united and continues to unite Catholics from all over Vietnam, representing a close link between the South and the North of the country. Geographical and cultural differences mean that the people of North and South Vietnam are very different from each other, in terms of ways of life, dialects, traditions and mentality.
Historically, the North has been under Chinese rule for over a thousand years, with strong influences stemming from it. South Vietnam suffers from the influences of French and then American colonialism.
Furthermore, for a long period of more than 20 years, between 1955 and 1975, North Vietnam and South Vietnam were separated due to the devastating Vietnam War, which exacerbated the divisions. At that time, there were hardly any official religious contacts between the two regions, and it was not until 1980, five years after the reunification of the country, that the first unified session of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Vietnam was held.
This unity was evident in recent days in the two episcopal ordination masses of the newly elected Dominican Bishop Dang Van Cau, at the head of the diocese of Thai Binh, in the North; and of the newly elected Bishop Joseph Bui Cong Trac, called to lead the Archdiocese of Ho Chi Minh City, in South Vietnam. The first chose "Ecce Venio" as his episcopal motto, the second "Christus vivit". Both offered their testimony of faith which was shared with vibrant and prayerful intensity with all the people of God.
There was great joy in seeing the two bishops from distant dioceses meet and embrace each other, as a sign of full spiritual communion. In addition, they recalled the moment, more than 40 years ago, when the country's bishops met to show the unity of the Catholic Church in Vietnam, hoping to establish a bond of love and unity in Christ Jesus among the people of God. Since then, diocesan pastoral exchanges between North Vietnam and South Vietnam have increased. In these days, the image of the bishops gathered to give thanks to God is an image that circulates in communities and on social networks, offering the faithful an example to follow and increasing the synodal spirit of full communion and participation in the same mission.
Following the episcopal ordination Mass, celebrated on December 31, the newly ordained Bishop Dominic Dang Van Cau expressed his gratitude and emotion, saying: "The motto 'Ecce Venio' makes me reflect because it reminds me that I must be a servant and not a prince in the episcopal ministry". "Today, I respond to God's call despite my imperfection and weakness, and I can express my gratitude only through my obedience, loyalty and love, and I will always and forever unite myself with the One who saves and giving myself to the community".
For his part, Bishop Joseph Bui Cong Trac, who was director of the Saint Joseph Major Seminary in the archdiocese of Ho Chi Minh city, declared: "My experience in the Seminary taught me that the educator, in addition to teaching, is called to give testimony of their faith, with a simple and exemplary life. Following the Gospel leads us to create a just and loving social order, based on respect for human dignity, at the service of the common good, especially by caring for the abandoned. Living in the spirit of charity and unity, beginning with our Vietnamese Church and with our entire nation: this is what the episcopal motto 'Chistus vivit' reminds me of and tells me". (PA/AD) (Agenzia Fides, 12/1/2023)
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