ASIA/VIETNAM – Lay Catholics fully involved in the synodal process and in the proclamation of the Gospel
Huè (Agenzia Fides) – Lay Catholics in Vietnam want to contribute to the global synodal process and their commitment is essential, especially to reach those who, after baptism, have moved away from the active life of faith. This is what emerges from an initial assessment of the Vietnamese dioceses on the meetings, reflections and exchanges carried out in recent months. An event organized by the Episcopal Conference at the Marian Shrine of La Vang in the diocese of Huè was also dedicated to deepening the mission of the laity in the Church. 520 representatives of the laity of the different dioceses took part.
The participants dealt mainly with the following themes: “The laity and their apostolic works”, “The laity and the proclamation of the Gospel in the communities”, “The laity and the mission ad gentes”.
The participants agreed that “all members of the People of God, priests, religious and laity, are called to respect the personal vocation of each, to share, to listen to each other and to discern together”. The objective is to “participate united in the proclamation of the Gospel, each in his own situation”, collaborating in the pastoral service of the community, with particular attention to the poor, young people and families. “Lay Catholics in Vietnam,” the conference concluded, “are called to contribute to missionary initiatives and the proclamation of the Gospel through dialogue, the nurturing of spiritual life and closeness to families through their daily witness to faith in ordinary life”.
During the exchange, those present also had the opportunity to express doubts and concerns about their experiences in the different local Churches. Bishop Joseph Nguyen Chi Linh of Hue said, “Today we have here the image of a dynamic Church. This opens up a new opportunity for the life of faith of the Church in Vietnam, which requires the awareness of the laity to collaborate and participate actively in the mission of the Church, because this is not reserved only for the clergy or religious orders. The Archbishop particularly underlined “the community spirit of the lay faithful who want to be ‘living stones’ in the Church in solidarity and fraternity”. In particular, referring to the life of the parishes, he pointed out that “collaboration between clerics and laity aims at the good of the People of God, responding to the destinies and needs of the people in the communities”.
Emmanuel Nguyen Hong Son, Bishop of the Diocese of Ba Ria, also made a point of dwelling on issues related to the apostolate of the laity, in particular by noting that today, in the life of Christian communities, we are witnessing a “hemorrhage” of the baptized who, for various and diversified reasons, of a cultural and social order, move away from the sacramental life and community participation. In Vietnam, where ecclesial life is usually characterized by the strong roots of the baptized in the communities, it is a particularly painful phenomenon that raises questions: “The Holy Spirit”, says the bishop, is He who, like a language of fire, brings the assembly of the apostles out of their gathering and sends them out into the world. Let us listen to the Holy Spirit to be enlightened in the work of re-evangelization of our communities: let us begin first with ourselves, so that he may transform us; thus we will pass on to others what we have learned. Let us ask God for the grace to bring us back to him and to put his word into practice”.
In conclusion, Bishop Joseph Tran Van Toan of Long Xuyen, in his capacity as President of the Episcopal Commission for the Laity, analyzed in more detail the phenomenon of those who turn away from the practice of the faith: “The main reason for those who turn away from God is
that they do not feel loved and do not perceive or recognize the love of Christ which the Church is called to spread and bear witness to”. In the parishes, it is important that the lay faithful maintain contact with them, visit them and ask for the grace of the Holy Spirit for them. We ask the Holy Spirit to enlighten us so that, through our presence, the heart of the person visited can be touched by God. When we meet or visit a person who has strayed from the faith, let us show love and pray for him/her, remaining meek and humble and living the faith ourselves first, to foster a personal encounter. with Christ”. The way to rekindling the faith, he said, is through the sacraments, such as Confirmation, the Eucharist and Confession, because “it is only through reconciliation with God that it is possible to attain peace and happiness of heart”.
Msgr. Joseph Tran Van Toan also underlined the importance of formation in the faith for the laity, which “must not be limited to the path of receiving the sacraments: catechesis means forming oneself in the faith, deepening it, praying, to adore and to live, and this is always necessary”. The goal of all catechesis is to “put God back at the center of life: to recognize and welcome God, the Absolute, who guides every step of our existence”.
Finally, the Bishop thanked the more than 50,000 catechists across Vietnam who proclaim the gospel in the country’s Catholic communities and accompany the life of faith of children, young people, adults and families. (AP/DH) (Agenzia Fides, 19/10/2022)