After two years of vacancy, Bac Ninh diocese has new Bishop installed. The new bishop has been one of the targets of state media’s campaign of vilification.

Bishop Cosma Hoàng Văn Đạt
Bishop Cosme Hoang Van Dat, S.J. has been ordained and installed as the ninth Bishop of the Diocese of Bac Ninh and successor to Bishop Joseph Marie Nguyen Quang Tuyen, at a Mass of Ordination and Installation at 9 am., Tueday Oct. 7 (The Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary).

The Principal Consecrator was Bishop Peter Nguyen Van Nhon of Dalat, the president of the Vietnam Conference of Catholic Bishops. 21 bishops including Cardinal Paul Joseph Pham Dinh Tung, retired Archbishop of Hanoi; hundreds of priests and religious; and over ten thousand faithful joined the ceremony.

The diocese had been vacant since the death of Bishop Joseph Marie Nguyen in September 2006.

Bishop-elect Cosme Hoang was born on July 20, 1947. After he and his family fled to the south in 1954, following the Communists’ takeover of the north, he joined the Jesuits in 1968. Two years later he began his philosophy and theology studies at Pius X Pontifical Institute in Da Lat.

He was ordained priest of Society of Jesus on June 5, 1976. He had served as the priest in charge of postulants at Thu Duc monastery until the arrest of the Superior by the Communist government. Since then, he had taken care the monastery during the next ten years (1978-1988).

After a long time providing pastoral care for patients with leprosy, he went for spirituality studies in France in 2002. He had since 2005 been spiritual adviser at Hanoi Major Seminary until the new appointment.

On Aug. 4, 2008, he was appointed bishop of Bac Ninh, a suffragan diocese of Hanoi archdiocese, 30 kilometers northeast of Ha Noi, with an area of 24,600 square km. The diocese has 43 priests, 268 nuns, 39 seminarians, and 127,734 faithful among a population of 7,181,000 people. There are 75 parishes and any parishes have no permanent priests and to maintain any kind of regular services, rely on part-timers.

The new ordained bishop went to Thai Ha on Sep. 8 to express solidarity with Redemptorists. After arriving with 39 priests and hundreds of faithful, he told the protestors: "I have prayed for you from afar, and today I want to be with you, in the place where I went to Mass as a child, to express my solidarity with you." He has since been one of the targets of state media’s campaign of vilification up to the point that many had concerned that his installation Mass could not be conducted as scheduled.