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 CNS Story:

SYNOD-VIETNAM Oct-14-2008 (310 words) xxxi

Bishop says Vietnamese Catholics live out Bible in pro-life movement

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Decades of persecution have made Catholics in Vietnam fiercely committed to living out what they read in the Bible, and one of the results has been an active pro-life movement, said Bishop Joseph Nguyen Chi Linh of Thanh Hoa, Vietnam.

Addressing the world Synod of Bishops on the Bible Oct. 14, the bishop said, "Unfortunately, Vietnam currently holds first place for the number of abortions performed."

International organizations have estimated that between one-quarter and one-third of all pregnancies end in abortion in the country. In 2006, there were more abortions than live births in Ho Chi Minh City.

Bishop Linh told the synod: "Paradoxically, this catastrophe has given rise to the pro-life movement among Catholics, a movement that particularly is involved in going to hospitals, recovering aborted babies, baptizing them if there is even the smallest sign of life and creating cemeteries to bury them.

"Initially, this practice was considered a crime by the civil authorities and hospital directors," he said.

Now, while the practice is not authorized, it is tolerated, the bishop said, and documentary filmmakers and journalists have written about it.

"Why this progress? The response is that the witness of Christians -- those who live from the word and in light of the word, (who) respect life -- is increasingly recognized," Bishop Linh said.

The word of God, he said, "has never ceased to be a moral and spiritual support" for Vietnamese Catholics, who have endured decades of oppression.

In the midst of "hatred, ideological wars and discriminatory limitations, our Christians increasingly have been convinced that only the word of God can preserve them in love, joy, peace, communion and tolerance," he said.

Canadian Basilian Father Thomas Rosica, the synod's English-language briefing officer, told reporters the synod members applauded Bishop Linh's talk.


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