(Vatican Radio) Vietnamese Cardinal Francis Xavier Nguyên Van Thuận (April 17, 1928
– September 16, 2002) is one step closer to beatification. On Friday, Pope Francis’
Vicar for the Rome diocese, Cardinal Agostino Vallini, presides the closing session
at the Lateran Palace of the diocesan phase of the beatification process. Participants
at that session will be received by Pope Francis on Saturday and a special mass of
thanksgiving will be held at Thuận’s titular Church in Rome, Santa Maria della Scala.
On 24 April 1975, six days before the city fell to the North Vietnamese army, Thuận was appointed Coadjutor Archbishop of Saigon. He was subsequently arrested by the communist government of Vietnam and held in a "reeducation camp" for 13 years, nine of which in solitary confinement.
President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace from 1998-2002, Thuan was elevated to Cardinal by Pope John Paul II in 2001.
In his 2007 encyclical, Spe Salvi, Benedict XVI referred to Thuận's Prayers of Hope, saying:
"During thirteen years in jail, in a situation of seemingly utter hopelessness, the fact that he could listen and speak to God became for him an increasing power of hope, which enabled him, after his release, to become for people all over the world a witness to hope—to that great hope which does not wane even in the nights of solitude."
In marking the anniversary of the Cardinal’s passing a few years ago, Pope Benedict spoke to members of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace about their former President.
Chris Altieri has that story while Charles Collins dusts off from our archives an exclusive Vatican Radio interview with the late Cardinal who recalls the long years of his imprisonment: