Cardinal built bridges between Catholic world and Vietnam

Cardinal Roger Etchegaray (CNS/Norbert Schiller)

The head of the Catholic bishops in Vietnam has praised a late Vatican official for his efforts to build bridges between Vietnam and the Catholic world. Source: ucanews.com.

Cardinal Roger Marie Elie Etchegaray, president emeritus of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, died on September 4 in Cambo-les-Bains in the Diocese of Bayonne in France. He was 96.

His death is a great loss not only for his relatives and the French Church but also for the College of Cardinals and the universal Church, said Archbishop Joseph Nguyen Chi Linh, president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Vietnam.

“Cardinal Etchegaray is a great benefactor for the history of the Church in Vietnam,” Archbishop Linh said in a message on September 5.

The archbishop of Hue said the French cardinal was the first top Vatican official to visit the Southeast Asian country after it was reunified under communist rule in 1975. He made a two-week working visit in 1989.

The communist Government expelled nuncio Henri Lemaitre from South Vietnam, cut off all ties with the Vatican, and banned local bishops from having contacts with outside churches.

Archbishop Linh said the late cardinal improved the strained relationship between the two sides.

“His historic visit was successful. Government officials and all people of God in Vietnam loved him. His mission became a historic bridge between Vietnam and the Catholic world,” Archbishop Linh said.

After his visit, the Government started to relax its grips on religious policies. Local clergymen were allowed to study abroad and set up ties with foreign churches.

In 1990, Cardinal Etchegaray returned to attend the funeral of Vietnamese Cardinal Joseph Marie Trinh Van Can of Hanoi.

Archbishop Linh said he would sent a letter of condolence to the French Church and Cardinal Etchegaray’s relatives.

He asked local Catholics to pray for the deceased cardinal to be in eternal life and appeal to him to pray for their nation and Church.

On September 5, Pope Francis was quoted by Vatican News as saying that Cardinal Etchegaray was “a zealous pastor and loved by the people he was called to serve.”

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Vietnamese Catholics grateful to late French cardinal (ucanews.com

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