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Beatification cause opened for Vietnamese Cardinal Van Thuan September 17, 2007

A cause has been opened for the beatification of the late Cardinal Francois-Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan, the Vietnamese prelate who once headed the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, the Vatican has disclosed.

Cardinal Van Thuan died of cancer on September 16, 2002, at the age of 74. At an audience with officials of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace on the 5th anniversary of the Vietnamese prelate's death, Pope Benedict XVI mentioned that a cause had been opened, with the usual 5-year time lapse having passed.

Pope Benedict spoke of Cardinal Van Thuan's "fervent commitment to spreading the Church's social doctrine among the world's poor, his longing for evangelization in his own continent of Asia, and his skill in coordinating activities of charity and human promotion which he initiated and supported in the most out-of-the-way places on earth." The late cardinal, he said, "was a man of hope, he lived on hope and he spread it to everyone he met. "

In 1975, shortly after being appointed the coadjutor archbishop of Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon), Van Thuan was arrested by the nation's Communist government. He spent 13 years in prison; that confinement was the subject of his memoir, Along the Path to Hope.

Pope John Paul II recognized Cardinal Van Thuan on several occasions: appointing him to head the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, inviting him to lead the annual Lenten Retreat at the Vatican during the Jubilee Year, and raising him in February 2001 to the College of Cardinals.

An Italian lawyer, Silvia Monica Correale, has been appointed postulator for the cause of the Vietnamese cardinal. Correale also serves as postulator for the causes of Luisa Piccarreta and Ven. Armida Barelli.