Vietnamese bishops console relatives of truck victims
Prelates from Vinh Diocese send an open letter to families of 39 migrants found dead in England.
Vietnamese Catholics with lit candles pray for 39 people found dead in a container truck in England at Thai Ha Church in Hanoi on Oct. 27. (Photo courtesy of nhathothaiha.net)
Bishops of a Vietnamese diocese that is home to many migrants found dead in England have called on people to express their solidarity with the victims and their relatives.
The illegal migrants — 31 men and eight women — were found dead in the back of a container truck in Essex on Oct. 23.
“In these days we are weighed down with grief over 39 young people — reportedly most of them are from the two dioceses of Vinh and Ha Tinh — who died painfully when they managed to enter England,” Bishop Alfonse Nguyen Huu Long of Vinh and his Auxiliary Bishop Peter Nguyen Van Vien said in an open letter on Oct. 29.
The bishops said many concerned families are awaiting news of their loved ones’ fate as all victims have not been identified and families have lost contact with their sons and daughters since the tragedy happened.
State-run Thanhnien newspaper reported on Oct. 30 that 28 families from the provinces of Nghe An, Ha Tinh, Quang Binh and Thua Thien Hue believe that their missing relatives were among the truck victims.
The newspaper said many families had erected altars and prayed for their missing relatives, who had paid large sums to illegal people smugglers for the chance to work abroad.
“We would like to offer our deep sympathy and fervent prayer to grieving families. May God bless, comfort and support you in this heart-stopping moment,” Bishops Long and Vien said in their letter.
The church leaders said Catholics believe that God always loves all people in any circumstances. Death is not the last word of human beings but “the voice of eternal love from God.”
They said many priests and Catholics gathered at churches to pray for victims, show their solidarity and support their relatives. Catholics need to show those good actions with victims including followers of other faiths.
In 2018, Vinh and Ha Tinh dioceses, covering the provinces of Nghe An, Ha Tinh and Quang Binh, served some 565,000 Catholics out of a total population of 5.3 million.
Church sources said local people regularly suffer natural disasters and environmental pollution caused by factories, live in poverty and have no jobs. As a result, youths who finish high school have to seek manual jobs in big cities in Vietnam and abroad.
Many parishes in rural areas have only elderly people and children as most youths leave their families and children to work elsewhere.
Bishops Long and Vien asked young people to respect and look after their own lives and other people’s ones, which are priceless gifts from God.
“Our native soil, which remains poor, always is the excellent mother who embraces and nourishes us, and teaches us to be united with one another,” they said.