Thursday, September 23, 2010
Hanoi - The new archbishop of Hanoi, Mgr. Peter Nguyen Van Nhon, visited a parish of Hmong ethnicity, bringing gifts for thousands of poor children, for the mid-Autumn Festival.
This festival is celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month of the year, with the full moon. This year it fell on September 22. The day before the archbishop of Hanoi and 40 members of Caritas visited the parish of Muong Riec, in Hoa Binh Province.
Muong Riec is 120 km from Hanoi, the parish community is entirely composed of thousands of Hmong ethnicity, whose ancestors were evangelized by foreign missionaries in the sixteenth century.
The Hmong, an often persecuted ethnic group, have a specific culture and live in deep poverty. For this Fr Nguyen Van Han, parish priest, organized the celebration of the mid-Autumn festival for the poorest children.
Hundreds of children attended the mass celebrated by Mgr. Van Nhon. "This evening - said the bishop - you greet the moon, which is more beautiful because the moon is the moon of the mid-Autumn Festival. God has prepared this moon so perfectly for children because He loves you and he prepares heaven for his children. You too are loved, defended and protected by Him. God does not discriminate between rich and poor, weak or powerful. He created the moon so that it may shine all over the world. " After the Mass, priests and members of Caritas distributed gifts to all children of the village.
According to government statistics, in Vietnam there are at least 2.5 million children (under 16 years) living in difficult conditions. There are a million poor, 126 thousand orphans, 1.2 million children with disabilities; 20 thousand street children, 56 thousand children forced to work, thousands of children sexually abused, and tens of thousands involved in drug cases. Each year, because of the death of parents from AIDS, 70 thousand children become orphans.
The Catholic Church has long called on the government to allow it the freedom to be of assistance in social work, health and education.