Die Apostolische Nachfolge

von Martin Wolters

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The Church during Transition in Vietnam

 

A special situation was the one of Vietnam in the context of catholic clandestine hierarchy. After Hồ Ch Minh proclaimed the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in 1945, France restored in the same year its colonial administration in the southern part of the country. In 1954, France lost the war, and Vietnam was divided alongs the 17th degree into a communist north and a western orientated southern part. In 1964/1965 the next war erupted, and the government of the north conquered step by step the south; the southern state surrendered on May 1, 1975, and Vietnam was reunified from H Nội as capital.  

The position of the catholic Church became difficult because of the Church's strong French influence there. When the hierarchy was established on November 24, 1960, beyond the 19 reigning bishops were already 17 autochthon prelates and only two French ones; Paul Lon Seitz, bishop of Kontum in South Vietnam, left his office on October 2, 1975, as last missionary prelate.

In spite of the fact most dioceses also in the north were filled with bishops, the Holy See worried about the situation at the transition era at the war's end and appointed numerous new bishops. As soon as 1974 the southern Metropolitan provinces of Hu and Si Gn got three bishops, who were consecrated by Agnelo Cardinal Rossi on August 11, 1974:

01.07.1974        Phaol Huỳnh ng Cc, Bishop of Quy Nhơn

01.07.1974        Nicla Huỳnh Văn Nghi, Auxiliary Bishop of Si Gn

01.07.1974        a Minh Nguyễn Văn Lng, Bishop of Xun Lộc

At the beginning of 1975 Rome separated the newly erected diocese of Phan Thiết from Nha Trang diocese within the Si Gn Metropolitan province and appointed a new bishop for the vacant see of Lạt:

 

30.01.1975        Bartlm Nguyễn Sơn Lm, P. S. S., Bishop of Lạt

30.01.1975        Phaol Nguyễn Văn Ha, Bishop of Phan Thiết

 

These both consecrations were the last regular ones in South Vietnam for quite a while. During progressing crisis several reigning bishops got the right to choose a coadjutor and to consecrate him immediately to assure a working diocesan government even in the case of impedition of the ordinary due to militaryr or political circumstances.

 

Appointment                                                                                                  Consecration            

27.03.1975        Alexis Phạm Văn Lộc, Coadjutor of Kontum (Hu)                     consecrated on 27.03.

15.04.1975        Gioan Baotixita Bi Tuần, Coadjutor of Long Xuyn (Si Gn)     consecrated on 30.04.

28.04.1975        minic Maria L Hữu Cung, Bishop of Bi Chu (H Nội)         consecrated on 29.06.

07.05.1975        a Minh inh Huy Quảng, Auxiliary Bishop of Bắc Ninh (H Nội)

06.06.1975        Emmanuel L Phong Thuận, Coadjutor of Cần Thơ (Si Gn)      consecrated on 06.06.

06.06.1975        Phanxic Xavi Nguyễn Quang Sch, Coadjutor Nẵng (Hu)   consecrated on 06.06.

10.06.1975        Anr Nguyễn Văn Nam, Coadjutor of Mỹ Tho (Si Gn)               consecrated on 10.06.

16.07.1975        Phaol Maria Nguyễn Minh Nhật, Coadjutor Xun Lộc (Si Gn)   consecrated on 16.07.

06.08.1975        Stphan Nguyễn Như Thế, Coadjutor of Huế                             consecrated on 07.09.

15.08.1975        Raphael Nguyễn Văn Diệp, Coadjutor of Vĩnh Long (Si Gn)        consecrated on 15.08.

 

On April 24, 1975, Phaol Nguyễn Văn Ha was sent as Bishop to Nha Trang within Hu Metropolitan province, and Phanxic Xavi Nguyễn Văn Thuận, up to the Bishop of Nha Trang, became Coadjutor of Si Gn. Eight from ten new bishops were destinated for the Southern provinces. The Coadjutor of Hu was forbidden to fulfill his duties for long years, and the Coadjutor of Si Gn was kept into custody steadily, while the remaing prelates were able to administer their offices in the limits of those times. In 1994, Phanxic Xavi Nguyễn Văn Thuận was retired by St. John Paul II and became President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace in 1998. In 2001, he was honoured with the cardinalate before he died the following year after long illness in the rumour of saintity. His beatification is in progress.

In 1976, Bl. Paul VI raised a bishop out of the northern part of the country, the Archbishop of the capital H Nội, Giuse Maria Trịnh Như Khu, to Vietnam's first Cardinal. The announcement of this creation still was "in pectore" regarding to the question whether the new cardinal was allowed to leave Vietnam to Rome, but indeed Mons. Trịnh Như Khu got his insignia in public. During the same year the last collective appointments took place:

 

Appointment                                                                                                  Consecration            

 22.02.1976        Giacb Huỳnh Vӑn Của, Coadjutor of Ph Cường (Si Gn)        consecrated on 22.02.

30.03.1976        Giuse Phan Văn Ha, Coadjutor of Quy Nhơn (Hu)                      consecrated on 30.03.

14.04.1976        Giuse Phan Thế Hinh, Coadjutor of Hưng Ho (H Nội)                   consecrated on 14.11.

09.12.1976        Giuse Nguyễn Thiện Khuyến, Coadjutor of Pht Diệm (H Nội)       consecrated on 24.04.

 

While the two appointments for the Southern sees occurred clandestine, borth Northern bishops were nominated in the regular way. In 1982, the Coadjutor of Ph Cường resigned; he died in French exile.

The last residence permission: Giacb Huỳnh Vӑn Của, Coadjutor of Ph Cường, in exile in Rocbaron

Giuse L Quỳ Thanh, Vietnam's first clandestine bishopf

 

a Minh inh Huy Quảng (left), with his consecrator Phaol Giuse Phạm nh Tụng

a Minh inh Huy Quảng, appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Bắc Ninh in 1975, was the only prelate from the war's last phase who never was published; he died in 1992. Already on February 13, 1964, Giuse L Quỳ Thanh became Vietnam's first clandestine bishop as coadjutor of Pht Dim, a very catholic and thus strongly by communist administration controlled diocese in H Ni Metropolitan province. He died in 1974 and was never published.

 

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