Cause for Cardinal Van Thuân Opens
His Successor Celebrates Mass on 5th Anniversary of Death
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ROME, SEPT. 17, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Cardinal François-Xavier Nguyên Van Thuân's cause for beatification has been opened five years after the Vietnamese prelate died at age 74.
Cardinal Renato Martino, who succeeded Cardinal Nguyên Van Thuân as president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, announced the opening of the cause at a Mass he celebrated Sunday, exactly five years after the prelate died.
During his homily, Cardinal Martino recalled his predecessor as an example "of unshakeable faith, of steadfast hope and of limitless charity."
According to the current president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Cardinal Van Thuân was "a shining witness of unity and forgiveness, of justice and peace, forged in the suffered experience of prison lived in union with Christ crucified and under Mary’s maternal protection."
He "knew how to distinguish between God and God’s works" above all during the 13 years of prison when he was tormented by his inability to carry out pastoral works, Cardinal Martino said.
The prelate explained that one night, a voice spoke in the depths of Cardinal Van Thuân's heart: "Why do you trouble yourself in this way? You must distinguish between God and God's works."
Cardinal Van Thuân would later recall the experience: "If God wants you to abandon these works by placing them in his hands, do it immediately and have faith in him. God will do it infinitely better than you; he will entrust his works to others, more able than you. You chose God alone, not his works! This light gave me new strength that completely changed my way of thinking."
Cardinal Martino said his predecessor nourished Christian faith with the Eucharist.
Speaking about the Eucharist just before he died, Cardinal Van Thuân said: "Jesus gives us everything we need in the Eucharist: love, the art of loving, loving always, loving with a smile, loving right away and loving our enemies, loving by forgiving, forgetting having forgiven."
Cardinal Martino said this love and forgiveness permitted Cardinal Van Thuân to survive imprisonment, enabling him to live in the joy of Christ, in forgiveness, in love and in unity, amid seemingly unbearable difficulties.
"One cannot be a saint in intervals," Cardinal Van Thuân wrote, "but in every minute, in the present moment."
Carinal Martino spoke of how the Vietnamese prelate changed his jailors, who became his friends and helped him to build a cross of wood with a chain made from an electric wire from his prison.
He wore it to remember "the love and unity that Jesus left us in his testament."
"That old wooden cross with a little bit of metal," Cardinal Martino said, "is a moving emblem of Christian paradoxes, because it is a cross of love."
Devotion to Mary
The president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace concluded the homily by affirming that Cardinal Van Thuân "loved Our Lady, as a baby loves its mother."
On Aug. 15, 1975, when the police arrested him, he had only what he was wearing and a rosary in his pocket.
Cardinal Van Thuân recalled the experience: "Mary prepared me for the persecution since 1975 when, as a young and active priest, before the grotto of Lourdes, she made me meditate on these words 'I do not promise you joy and consolations but trials and suffering.'"
Also in attendance at the memorial Mass were Cardinals Angelo Sodano and Roger Etchegaray, president of the College of Cardinals and retired president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, respectively.
During the Eucharistic celebration a holy card of Cardinal Van Thuân was handed out with a prayer on the back.
Cardinal Martino named Silvia Monica Correale as postulator of the cause of beatification.