During last week, bishops from 26 dioceses in Vietnam had their annual meeting in the Pastoral Centre of the archdiocese of Saigon. A letter to people of God in Vietnam was released at the end of the gathering to encourage the faithful to deepen their faith, believe in the Gospel message and go forth to proclaim the Gospel with a strong focus on the renewal of family life.

As their meeting this year occurs in the context of the Year of Faith, bishops expressed their joy “to hear about the spiritual fruits of the faithful and parish communities, dioceses, and congregations who had been actively learning, and put forward positive effort for the renewal of their life of faith”.

But at the same time, in a clear reference to clashes with the Vietnamese government in Vinh and other places, Catholic leaders in Vietnam also stated their dismay at “difficulties and challenges that some communities have faced in the understanding that faith is always a challenge, but in any circumstances, the disciples of Jesus are called to witness to the Gospel of God's love, to become a catalyst for building the civilization of love and a culture of life”.

In the last three years (2010-2013), the Church in Vietnam focused on learning and living the meaning of the Church: the mystery - communion - mission. “Orientation and spirit of the Year of Faith should be followed by efforts for ‘The New Evangelization for the Transmission of Christian Faith’, that is the topic of the 2012 Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelisation,” suggested the prelates.

The focus of the New Evangelization calls all Catholics to be evangelized and then go forth to evangelize. Facing with a large scale of corruption the social life in Vietnam today, bishops argued that “to accomplish these goals, your family must be built into a community of prayer, faithful in marriage, and full of zeal in evangelization”.

In a special way, bishops paid a good attention to those who have experienced a crisis of faith due to family difficulties: those who divorced and remarried, and those who involved in the calamity of abortion. They are encouraged in particularly to renew their relationship with Jesus Christ and his Church.

As a concrete action, bishops stated that “Dioceses will pay more attention to the training of clergy, religious, and lay pastoral ministries who are in charge of the family ministry. These people will work with the diocesan bishop in the development and implementation of family relating pastoral programs of the diocese and parish.”

A special appeal was sent at the end of the bishops’ letter to writers, artists and personnel in Catholic media to employ their talents to honour the true beauty of marriage love and family.