CBCV: Dialogue and Evangelization in Vietnam
In the Common Letter post Congress of the People of God 2010 titled “Together build the love and life of civilization”, the Vietnamese Bishops pointed out the orientation for carrying out evangelization in Vietnam. Concretely, the pastors proposed that the Vietnamese People of God community perform “heart to heart dialogue” with other religions, the poor and non – religious people. The Diocesan Commission for Interfaith Dialogue would like to present the reader the text of numbers 39 to 42 in the common letter of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Vietnam promulgated on May 1st 2011 as follows:
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39. In the context of the Vietnamese society, when carrying out the evangelization mission, the Church should have dialogue with other religions, the poor and non-religious people. This is a heart to heart dialogue aiming at building mutual understanding and service for the real happiness of the people. This is also a dialogue to increase the grace of salvation.
40. Interreligious dialogue will help the Church in Vietnam affirm her beliefs in the activation of the Holy Spirit who is guiding everyone to full Truth. (John 16,13) In Vietnam, we find that the Catholic charity meets the Buddhism benevolence, the Taoism sense of spirituality, the Confucianism social philosophy and the Vietnamese in-born devotion: respect the Creator, practising piety and showing gratitude to the ancestors, parents, heroes of the nation (2). Dialogue also facilitates the Church to expand cooperation with other religions in the mission of making the society healthy and enhancing human dignity. Furthermore, it is a chance for the Church to renew faith in Christ who is the Beginning and the End of human history (3). Being aware of the importance of dialogue with religions, in the coming years, the church has to give further attention to this aspect in human training as well as in pastoral activities.
41. Evangelization calls Christians to (4) tolerantly serve people, especially the poor and abandoned persons. Jesus gives special affection to the little and humble people. Dialogue with the poor has helped the Church learn the way of seeing like Jesus, discovering our need to be loved and respected; it is not enough to only give material aid(5). At the same time, the Church also recognizes new forms of poverty, becoming sensitive to changes in society in order to timely answer them with the urging of Holy Spirit(6). Following the example of Jesus, the Church in Vietnam should pay special attention to the ethnic people who are economically, socially and culturally suffering losses, to those who are patients, the disabled, the old and weak persons, the prostitutes following a sinful way, prisoners…. all those who need more concern in our pastoral work. Christian communities should manage to show them practical love and service, accompany them is their hardships, help them to find the happiness of faith when suffering like the One who was crucified and complete the pains lacking in His passion for the sake of the Church, His body (Cl 1,24).
42. In dialogue with non-religion persons, the Church acknowledges their efforts and goodwill for public interest. Christians should have a sense of responsibility about the phenomena of indifference, secularism and materialism etc… as several times, we “would rather cover our eyes than show the real figure of God and religion”(7). Moreover, with gentleness and respect, Catholic believers” should be willing to answer anyone who questions their hope (1pr 3,15), straight forwardly present the Church viewpoint on human life, if necessary, and be ready to accept sufferings in order to witness to the Gospel truth. In addition, through honesty and righteousness, the Church may find the mystery of the Holy Spirit in the heart of each person and learn how to present their faith to the people of today.
Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Vietnam
Nhip cau Tam giao (The bridge of Heart) No 5,
Phuong Dong publisher (Jun 2011), page 78-81
(1) Paul VI, Pope. Evangelii Nuntiandi 75-79; Vatican II, GS 92; John Paul II, Pope. Ecclesia in Asia 29.
(2) Nguyen Van Nhon, Archbishop, Chairman of VH Bishops Commission, “Greeting on the closing ceremony of the Holy Year”, Hiep thong 63, page 116.
(3) Vatican II, GS 45,93.
(4) Proposal 25. Vatican II, GS 92.
(5) Benedictus XVI, pope, Deus caritas eat 18; Vatican II, GS 27; Vietnam Bishop commission, common Letter 2001 “For their abundant life”, No. 11.
(6) Working doc… No. 23.
(7) Vatican II, GS 19.