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Archbishop Nguyên Van Thuân on Faith, Hope and Christian Forgiveness

Preacher of Papal Spiritual Exercises

His family's persecution began in 1698, when, after being baptized, an ancestor, who was the King's ambassador in China, was expelled from the realm and his property confiscated. This is the family history of Archbishop François Xavier Nguyên Van Thuân, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

In 1975, Pope Paul VI named him Archbishop of Ho Chi Minh City, but the communist government labeled his appointment a conspiracy and three months later imprisoned him. He was in Vietnamese jails for 13 years, 9 of which were spent in solitary confinement. When he was released, he was forced to leave Vietnam, where he has not been allowed to return, not even to visit his elderly mother. In spite of so many sufferings, or perhaps because of them, Archbishop Nguyên Van Thuân is an incomparable witness of faith, hope and Christian forgiveness.

Witness of Hope

Beginning today, and until next Saturday, Archbishop Nguyên Van Thuân is preaching Spiritual Exercises to John Paul II and his collaborators in the Roman Curia. The topic of the meditations is Hope: "Hope in God," "Hope against Hope," "Adventure and Joy of Hope," "Renewal and the People of Hope," are some of the meditation titles he has prepared for the Holy Father. It is no coincidence that the Archbishop's book, which has been translated into 11 languages and distributed worldwide, is entitled "The Way of Hope."

Archbishop Nguyên Van Thuân never lost hope, not even on August 16, 1975, when he was arrested and transported by night 280 miles from Ho Chih Minh City, in the most absolute isolation. His only companion was the Rosary. At that time, when everything seemed lost, he abandoned himself into the hands of Providence. To his non-Catholic fellow-prisoners, who were curious to know how he could maintain his hope, he answered: "I have left everything to follow Jesus, because I love Jesus' defects."

Jesus' "defects," indeed, will be one of the issues that the Pope's preacher will address during the spiritual Exercises.

Jesus Has no Memory

"During his agony on the cross, when the thief asked him to remember him when he arrived in his Kingdom, had it been me I would have replied: 'I will not forget you, but you must expiate your crimes in Purgatory.' However, Jesus replied: 'Today you shall be with me in Paradise.' He had forgotten that man's sins. The same happened with Mary Magdalene, and with the Prodigal Son. Jesus does not have a memory, he forgives the whole world," the Archbishop said.

Jesus Is Ignorant of Mathematics and Philosophy

"Jesus does not know mathematics. This is demonstrated in the parable of the Good Shepherd. He had 100 sheep, one is lost and without hesitating he went to look for it, leaving the other 99 in the sheepfold. For Jesus, one is as valuable as 99, or even more so," commented the Archbishop.

"Moreover, Jesus is not a good philosopher. A woman with 10 drachmas, lost one and lit a candle to find it. When she finds it she calls her neighbors and says: 'Rejoice with me, because I found the drachma I had lost.' Is it logical to bother one's friends over just one drachma and then organize a party for having found it?" he mused. "Moreover, when inviting her friends to the feast, she spent more money than the value of the drachma. So it is that Jesus explains the rejoicing of God over the conversion of just one sinner."

Jesus Is a Risk-taker with no Idea of Economics

"Jesus is risk-taker. Those who want to win people's approval do so with many promises, while Jesus promises his followers prosecutions and persecutions and yet, for 2000 years we see that there are risk-takers who continue to follow Jesus," explained Archbishop Nguyên Van Thuân.

"Jesus has no idea of finance or economics," he continued. "In the parable of the vineyard laborers, the master pays the same salary to the one who works from the early hours of the morning, and to the one who begins work late. Did he make a mistake in rendering these accounts? Did he commit an error? No, he does it on purpose, because Jesus does not love us for our merits, his love is free and surpasses us infinitely. Jesus has 'defects' because he loves. Real love does not reason, or calculate; it places no barriers or conditions, it does not build frontiers, and does not remember offenses."

Innhold Neste

av Webmaster publisert 31.03.2006, sist endret 31.03.2006 - 18:18