In a non-precedent situation, an archbishop of Vietnam has died during his ad limina visit in Vatican. Archbishop Paul Bùi Văn Đọc of Saigon passed away on Tuesday March 6, 2018 just a day after being received by Pope Francis along with his fellow prelates.
The Archbishop got stroke after presiding a Mass with the concelebration of 31 other Vietnamese bishops, at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside The Wall at 11am Tuesday morning. Despite efforts of doctors and nurses, he died later at San Camillo hospital of Rome.
Bishops of the Episcopal Conference of Vietnam have been in Italy since Friday March 2, after a short visit at The Society of Foreign Missions of Paris (short M.E.P). As previously scheduled, Vietnamese bishops still have some meetings with Vatican dicasteries.
The deceased prelate had been the President of the Episcopal Conference during the term 2013-2016. He was born on November 11, 1944 in Da Lat, a mountainous province in the Central Highlands of Vietnam. In 1956, he started his priesthood study at a seminary in Saigon. He followed his advanced studies in philosophy and theology at the Pontifical Urbaniana University in Rome, from 1964 to 1970, before being ordained as a priest of Dalat Diocese on December 17, 1970. He then served as the Rector of Minh Hòa Major Seminary of the diocese from 1975 before being appointed the Vicar General in 1995. During this time, he also served as part-time professor of theological doctrine at seminaries of Saigon, Hà Nội and Huế (1986–2008).
Pope John Paul II appointed him Bishop of My Tho on March 26, 1999. He received his episcopal consecration on the following May 20 from Archbishop Jean-Baptiste Phạm Minh Mẫn of Saigon.
He was named Coadjutor Archbishop of Saigon on September 28, 2013 by Pope Francis; and on March 22, 2014, he succeeded Cardinal Jean-Baptiste Phạm Minh Mẫn as the third archbishop of the archdiocese, which was created at that title in 1960.