Pope praises 'heroic' Vietnamese cardinal

 The Pope presided on Sunday afternoon in St Peter's Basilica at the funeral of Vietnamese Cardinal Francois-Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan who died on Tuesday at age 74. The Eucharistic liturgy was celebrated by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, secretary of state, together with other cardinals. A delegation from the Vietnamese Church, headed by the president of the Episcopal Conference, Bishop Paul Nguyen Van Hoa, also participated in the Mass. In his homily the Holy Father recalled that when the cardinal preached spiritual exercises to the Roman Curia in 2000, he recounted that, during the thirteen years he spent in prison, "he understood that the foundation of Christian life is 'to choose God alone,' abandoning oneself completely into his fatherly hands. We are called, he added in light of his personal experience, to announce to everyone the 'Gospel of hope.' And he specified that only with the radicalness of sacrifice can this vocation be fulfilled, even in the midst of harsher trials." John Paul II said that "while we say goodbye for the last time to this heroic herald of the Gospel of Christ, we give thanks to the Lord for having given us in him a brilliant example of Christian coherence to the point of martyrdom. His secret was total faith in God, nourished by prayer and the suffering he accepted with love. In prison, he celebrated the Eucharist every day with three drops of wine and one drop of water in the palm of his hand. This was his altar, his cathedral. The Body of Christ was his 'medicine'." "In his spiritual testament," concluded the Pope, "after having asked for forgiveness, the Cardinal assures us that he continues to love everyone. 'I am serene as I leave', he affirms, and I do not have contempt for anyone. I offer up all the suffering that I have endured to Immaculate Mary and St Joseph. The testament ends with a triple recommendation: 'Love the Holy Virgin and trust in St Joseph, be faithful to the Church, be united and charitable to all.' This was, in short, his life."

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