The Holy See delegation was due to travel to the country. The Embassy to Italy has canceled the permits, disappointment among Catholics in Vietnam. Faithful denounce the blatant violation of religious freedom. But there is "hope", as witnessed by the cardinal who spent 13 years of his life in prison without trial.

Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) - The Vietnamese government - through its embassy in Italy - has revoked the visa of the Vatican Commission, expected in these days in the South-east Asian country for the cause of beatification of Card. Francis Xavier Nguyen Văn Thuận. The Holy See delegation was led by Card. Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, and was due to visit Vietnam from March 23 to April 9. However, Hanoi today announced that the authorities have withdrawn permission and the delegation has been forced to postpone the visit.

Vietnamese Catholics - as well as understandable disappointment - have denounced a "blatant violation of religious freedom" by the Communist government, which has thus blocked the process that was to have raised the Cardinal to the honors of the Church. This issue, add the faithful, regards "activities of faith" and has nothing to do with politics (see AsiaNews 12/01/2012 Card Văn Thuận continues to teach fellow Vietnamese about 'The Road to Hope').

In preparation for the work of the Commission, the current archbishop of Ho Chi Minh City, Card. Jean Baptiste Phạm Minh Mẫn had sent a letter to all the faithful of the diocese, asking them to "pray with devotion for the process of beatification." The cardinal also called "priests, religious and lay people" who met with Cardinal Văn Thuận, or are aware of events that may contribute to his process of beatification "to testify before the Holy See delegation to his virtue and holiness."

The Cardinal's life is deeply tied to the country's recent history, starting with his appointment as coadjutor bishop - April 23, 1975, at age 47 - to the archdiocese of Saigon, in the days when the current Ho Chi Minh City fell under the North Vietnamese. He arrived in the city on May 12 and, after only three months, was summoned to the Palace of Independence by communist leaders and arrested.

The cardinal spent the next 13 years under house arrest, without trial. However, he spent his life for the Church as a banner of "hope" the motto he had chosen for the episcopate - June 24, 1967 - that is "Gaudium et Spes". By living with a deeply rooted hope Card. Văn Thuận was able to overcome many difficulties and hardships which he faced on his life's path.

Vietnamese Catholics still hope that the authorities will grant a visa to the Commission so they may proceed expeditiously with the necessary procedures for his beatification.