"We Remember Him With Great Admiration"
CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 17, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today when he received in audience at Castel Gandolfo the officials and collaborators of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the death of Cardinal François-Xavier Nguyên Van Thuân.
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Venerated Brothers in the Episcopacy and Priesthood,
Dear brothers and sisters!
I cordially welcome all of you, gathered to remember Cardinal François-Xavier Nguyên Van Thuân, who the Lord called to himself five years ago on Sept. 16. Five years have passed, but the noble figure of this faithful servant of the Lord is still alive in our hearts and minds. I too have many personal memories of the meetings I had with him during his years of service here, in the Roman Curia.
I greet Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino and Bishop Giampaolo Crepaldi, respectively the president and secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, together with their collaborators. I greet the members of the St. Matthew Foundation established in memory of Cardinal Van Thuân, of the International Observatory, which bears his name, created to spread the Church's social doctrine, along with the relatives and friends of the deceased cardinal. To Cardinal Martino I express lively sentiments of gratitude for his greeting in the name of all those present.
I gladly take this occasion to recall, once more, the luminous witness of faith that this heroic pastor left us. Bishop Francis Xavier -- as he liked to introduce himself -- was called to the house of the Father during the autumn of 2002, after a long period of sickness that he faced with total abandonment to God's will. Years before he had been named by my venerable predecessor John Paul II as vice president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, of which he was later named president, setting in motion the publication of the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church.
How can we forget the outstanding marks of his simple and quick cordiality? How can we not highlight his ability to dialogue and to become everyone's neighbor? We remember him with great admiration, while recalling the great visions, full of hope, which animated him and which he knew how to propose in an easy and riveting way; his fervent effort to spread the Church's social doctrine among the world's poor, how he yearned for the evangelization of his continent, Asia, the ability he had to coordinate the activities of charity and human promotion that he promoted and sustained in the remotest corners of the earth.
Cardinal Van Thuân was a man of hope; he lived hope and spread it among everyone he met. It was because of this spiritual energy that he resisted all his physical and moral difficulties. Hope sustained him as a bishop when he was isolated for 13 years from his diocesan community; hope helped him to see beyond the absurdity of the events that happened to him -- he was never put on trial during his long imprisonment -- a providential plan of God. The news of his sickness, a tumor, which led to his death, reached him almost at the same time as his elevation to cardinal by John Paul II, who held him in great esteem and affection. Cardinal Van Thuân loved to repeat that the Christian is a man of hour, of the now, beginning from the present moment to welcome and live with Christ's love. In this ability to live the present moment his intimate abandonment in God’s hands shines through as does the evangelical simplicity which we all admired in him. Is it possible -- he would ask -- that he who trusts in the Father would refuse to let himself be embraced in his arms?
Dear brothers and sisters I welcomed with profound joy the news that the cause for beatification of this singular prophet of Christian hope has begun and, while we entrust this chosen soul to the Lord, we pray that his example will be for us a valuable teaching. With that, I bless you all from my heart.