Most Reverend Paul Nguyen Van Hoa
Bishop of Nha Trang, President
Washington, D.C., November 10, 2003
Your Excellency, Bishop Gregory;
Your Eminences and Excellencies; Dear Friends,
It is a great blessing and honor for us to be here today at the fall USCCB meeting. On behalf of the members of our Conference, and on behalf of the People of God entrusted to us in Vietnam, we wish to convey to all members of this assembly our feelings of fraternal affection and the deep esteem in which you are held.
With the visit to Vietnam in 1989, you took the first step toward renewing relations between our two Churches; again, four years ago, Bishop Joseph Fiorenza, then your President, led a delegation of U.S. Bishops to visit our country and our Church. We recall the event very vividly, as a gesture of spiritual unity and a token of common stewardship. As Bishop Fiorenza rightly stated, your visit was to become an historical landmark, a lasting sign of fraternal communion, strengthening a special relationship of shared responsibility between the Church in the United States and the Church in Vietnam.
We come here today to express and affirm these bonds of communion and sharing. While the Church in Vietnam was in most difficult circumstances, you found ways to help us. We are deeply moved by your concern and your generosity. And we can never forget the love and pastoral care you have offered to nearly a half million of our brothers and sisters, the Catholic Vietnamese presently living and working in the United States. Please accept our sincere thanks for all of this.
As you may be aware, our nation has achieved remarkable progress in recent years in areas of social and economic life, and yet millions are still living in poverty–material, intellectual and spiritual.
For us, proclaiming the Gospel is inseparably a mission of promoting the genuine progress of all human beings: this is the core teaching of Pope John Paul II in his Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Asia, which we have adopted as our pastoral guide. In order to accomplish Christ's mission of love and service in Vietnam, we are working to increase well trained personnel and to revitalize traditional values in family and society.
In conclusion, we hope that our presence here will deepen the bonds of communion and cooperation between the Church in Vietnam and the Church in the United States. Together, so we hope, we will be able to seal these bonds in tangible acts. We thank you all for the warm welcome you have extended to us and to our sisters and brothers who came to live their faith and make a home in this land.
We pray that you may continue to fulfill the Lord's mandate of evangelization in the midst of a nation of peace and prosperity. May God, through the intercession of Our Blessed Mother and the Martyrs of Vietnam, bless us all!
Thank you for your kind attention.
+Paul Nguyen Van Hoa
Bishop of Nha Trang
President of the Episcopal Conference of Vietnam