Biography of Cardinal Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan – Viet Nam

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A Venerable of the Church

Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan was born on April 17, 1928, in Phu Cam, in the Archdiocese of Hue, Thua Thien Province, Vietnam. His family has 8 children, 3 boys and 5 girls. He is the eldest. His father was Nguyen Van Am, died July 1, 1993, in Sydney, Australia. His mother is Mrs. Elisabeth Ngo Dinh Thi Hiep, the daughter of Ngo Dinh Kha. She was the younger sister of Archbishop Ngo Dinh Thuc and President Ngo Dinh Diem. She died on January 28, 2005, in Sydney, Australia, aged 102.
Supported by Bishop Ngo Dinh Thuc, in 1939, he entered minor Seminary An Ninh, Cua Tung, Quang Tri. Completing the minor seminary, in 1947, he entered Phu Xuan Seminary in Hue. On June 11, 1953, he was ordained a priest by Urrutia. Later, he was appointed assistant Father of Tam Toa, a large parish in Dong Hoi Town, Quang Binh Province. This parish was looked after by Father Nguyen Van Tam.

In early 1954, he had to go to Hue for treatment. After he became well, he became the assistant father of Francis Xavier’s parish in Hue.

In 1956, he went to Rome to study Catholicism Canon law at the Pontifical University of Urbaniana, from 1956 to 1959. He passed the Doctorate of Canon Law in 1959 with the thesis: “Military Chaplaincy in the World “With the result” Maxima cum laude “. He returned to Phu Xuan Junior Seminary as professor in Hue. In 1962, when the Junior Seminary Hoan Thien was founded to replace the junior seminary Phu Xuan, he was appointed director of this new junior seminary. In 1964, he was appointed vicar general of the Diocese of Hue.

On July 5, 1957, Pope Pius XII issued the Sacred Crescit Laetissimo to establish the apostolic Diocese of Nha Trang.

On May 4, 1967, the Holy See delegated the diocese of Nha Trang to the Vietnamese diocese and appointed Father Nguyen Van Thuan as the first Vietnamese bishop of this diocese.

In April 1975, when Archbishop Nguyen Van Binh asked the Holy Roman Delegate in Vietnam, Henri Lemaitre, asking the Holy See to send Bishop Nguyen Van Thuan was the Archbishop of Saigon in the hope that his wisdom would lead the Vietnamese Church to overcome the impending difficulties.

Finally, at the suggestion of the Delegate, on April 23, 1975, the Holy See appointed him Archbishop of Vadesitana, and on April 24, 1975, appointed him Coadjutor Archbishop Diocese of Sai Gon with the power of succession. Bishop Nguyen Van Hoa was appointed as Bishop of Nha Trang to replace him.

The hand-over ceremony was held in Nha Trang on May 7, 1975. On 8 May 1975, he returned to Saigon to take up his new job. Unbelievably, this appointment brought him tragic consequences, but also raised him to important positions in the Church later.
On June 27, 1975, the Saigon-Gia Dinh City Military Commission announced its decision not to allow Archbishop Nguyen Van Thuan to operate in his new post. On July 1, 1975, the Military Commission sent him a written request to return to his residence prior to April 30, 1975.

On August 15, 1975, the police arrested him in Nha Trang, but did not return to the Nha Trang Bishopric, to put under house arrest at Cay Vong Parish, Dien Son Commune, Dien Khanh District, Khanh Hoa Province. . Shortly after, he was detained in Phu Khanh prison, Nha Trang.

On November 29, 1976, a police car approached Phu Khanh prison to take him to the Thu Duc prison. On December 1, 1976, he and other political prisoners were detained in the South, taken down Truong Xuan ship to the North. In the North, he was detained for nine years in various detention centers, and was placed under house arrest for three years. In his first year in prison (1976), he wrote “Road of Hope.” This book is considered his spiritual testament to all Vietnamese Catholics in Vietnam and abroad.

On November 21, 1988, he was freed and appointed the residence of the Archbishop of Hanoi. On March 27, 1989, he was expelled from Vietnam and through Rome.
On November 21, 1994, he was appointed by the Holy See as Vice-President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. This is the first time a Vietnamese chaplain has been appointed to an important post at the Vatican. In 1998, he was appointed Chairman of the Council (equal to Minister). He declared:

“I dream of a Church that is a witness of hope and love, by concrete actions, as when we see the Pope accepting all people: the Orthodox, Anglicans, Calvin, Luther … in the grace of Jesus Christ, the love of the Father and the communion of the Spirit lived in prayer and humility. “

In his function, he as invited to give lectures and lectures in various places and for many different circles, such as at the Cathedral church of Paris during a Lent, or to speak at Catholic universities around the world. , or talk to the young like in Mexico in May 1998 with more than 50,000 young people attending. He was also invited to preach in the United States several times and speak with many Vietnamese communities and organizations overseas.

On May 11, 1996, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Jesuit College in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. The Mission also commissioned him to carry out visits and inspections of seminaries in several African countries.

He also received medals for the witness of his peace-building activities: On June 9, 1999, the French Government awarded him the Medal “Commandeur de L’Ordre National du Mérite “

On January 12, 2000, the Society for the Peaceful Building awarded him the peace medal at Rome’s Town Hall.

In Torino, October 20, 2001, he was awarded the SERMIG Peace Prize. On December 9, 2001, the G. Donati Research Center awarded him the 2001 Peace Prize.

During the Lenten week of the Roman Curia in 2000, he was sent by Pope John Paul II to preach. After listening to his sermons including the testimony of his years in prison, on March 18, 2000, the Pope wrote him a letter expressing the following sentiments:

“I have wished that during this Jubilee Year there is a special place dedicated to the witness of those who have suffered for the faith, who have paid their blood to Christ and the Church in their blood. , or endure long prison years and all kinds of deprivation. “(Evidence, page 8). Later, he was received by the pope and given a chalice.

On February 21, 2001, Pope John Paul II gave the cardinal’s head to the diocesan secretariat of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and commissioned him as Cardinal Deacon of Santa Maria della Scala. This church is located in the Trastevere area of ​​Rome, presided by the Carmelite Fathers.

Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan died at 18:00 on September 16, 2002, in Rome. In the letter “The Mission of Christ is our mission,” the year of the missionary 1970, he said to his flock: Because of the Catholic spirit and missionary spirit is one. We believe that is one of the words that he left us.

May 5, 2017 -Pope Francis of Assisi approves the ordinances of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, taking one more step in the canonical conventions of 12, including Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan’s Servant.

On May 4, 2017, Pope Francis congratulated the heroic virtues of Cardinal Nguyen Van Thuan during the meeting with Cardinal Angelo Amato, Minister of Holy Communion. Having been imprisoned for his faith in Vietnam for 13 years, including nine years in solitary confinement, Cardinal Nguyen Van Thuan has been declared a Venerable, an important step in his canonization.

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