Beloved cardinal laid to rest in Vietnam

religion | Feb 27, 2009 | By Asia News

About 30,000 Catholics attended the funeral Mass of Cardinal Paul Joseph Pham Dinh Tung on Feb. 26 in Ha Noi. 

Wearing white mourning bands on their foreheads, most had to gather outside the St. Joseph Cathedral building, where large screens showed the Mass celebrated by Cardinal Jean Baptiste Pham Minh Man of Ho Chi Minh City and concelebrated by 20 bishops and 500 priests from Vietnam and abroad.

The cardinal was buried at the cathedral altar after the funeral Mass.

Pope Benedict XVI named Cardinal Man as his special envoy for the funeral, according to a local Church source.

Cardinal Tung died at the archbishop's residence in Ha Noi on Feb. 22 at the age of 89. Since then, thousands came to pay their last respects, including local government authorities and other religious leaders who offered flowers and incense in front of the cardinal's coffin.

Bishop Paul Nguyen Van Hoa of Nha Trang in his homily during the funeral praised the late cardinal for laying the foundation of the northern Church. He urged Catholics to "follow his example by trusting in God's love and doing charitable work."

Cardinal Jean Baptiste Pham Minh Man of Ho Chi Minh City and about 20 bishops and 500 priests from Vietnam and abroad concelebrated the funeral Mass for Cardinal Paul Joseph Pham Dinh Tung on Feb. 26 in Ha Noi.

Some lay Catholics from the capital said they highly respected the late cardinal who they said was humble, lived a simple life and loved his people. The cardinal set a perfect example of being loyal to the Church during difficult times, they noted.

"We have lost a marvelous and beloved father," said Sacred Heart Sister Anna Nguyen Thi Xuan, who serves leprosy patients at a state-run center in Bac Ninh province.

Sister Xuan's congregation was founded in 1980 by Cardinal Tung who served as Bac Ninh bishop from 1963-1994. She recalled how he provided training for Catholics at his residence during the three decades when religious activities were restricted.

"We attended weekly courses and then visited and worked at local parishes that had no priests or Religious," she added. The diocese had only between one to three priests until 1998 when the late Bishop Joseph Nguyen Quang Tuyen ordained six priests.

About 30 Muong ethnic women from Hoa Binh province in their traditional clothes played the traditional Vietnamese gong at the funeral ceremony. "Cardinal Tung loved and prayed much for us although he could not visit us," one of them said. In the past the government banned priests from visiting their community, she added.



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