March 10-12, 2000
volume 11, no. 50
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NEWS & VIEWS     Acknowledgments
Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales and International Dossiers, Daily Dispatches and Features at ZENIT International News Agency. CWN, NE and ZENIT are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provide this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.


    VATICAN ( -- The annual Lenten retreat for the Vatican leadership will be preached by Archbishop Francois Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan, the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

    The retreat, a week-long series of meditations, will begin on Sunday, March 12 and run through Saturday, March 18. Because Pope John Paul II and the leaders of the Roman Curia will be attending the retreat, the working schedule for the Holy See will be severely curtailed during that week.

    Archbishop Nguyen Van Thuan, who spent 13 years in Vietnamese prisons, was chosen by Pope John Paul to preach this year's retreat for two reasons. First, as a Vietnamese native, the archbishop represents the Catholics of a land whose people are unable to come to Rome for the Jubilee because of political constraints. Second, as a former prisoner, he bears witness to the importance of religious freedom.

    Archbishop Nguyen was imprisoned from 1975 to 1998, after being named coadjutor archbishop of Saigon. To this day he wears a pectoral cross which he carved from a piece of wood while he was in prison, and hid from his jailers in a bar of soap; after his release, he covered that wooden cross with metal plating.

    During his years behind bars, the archbishop was occasionally able to write notes to his people, and smuggle them out of the prison. These notes were eventually collected, copied into a single notebook, and circulated first within Vietnam and later all around the world. They have been published in book form in several languages, under the title: "Along the Path of Hope." Archbishop Nguyen has chosen a similar theme from his Lenten retreat: Witness and Hope.

    In 1999, Bishop Andre-Mutien Leonard of Namur, Belgium preached the Lenten retreat for the Roman Curia. In previous years the preachers had included Cardinal Giovanni Saldarini of Turin (1994), Father Thomas Spidlik of the Vatican's Oriental Institute (1995), Archbishop (now Cardinal) Christoph Schoenborn of Vienna (1996), Cardinal Roger Etchegaray of the Jubilee Committee (1997), and Cardinal Jan Chryzostom Korec of Nitra, Slovakia (1998).


March 10-12, 2000
volume 11, no. 50

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