Biography of Cardinal
Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan
Birth. April 17, 1928, parish of Phu Cam, Huê, Viêt Nam. Nephew of Ngo Dinh Diem, president of the former Republic of South Viêt Nam (1); and of Pierre Martin Ngô Ðình Thuc, archbishop of Hue. Numerous members of his family suffered martyrdom because of their faith. His name is also listed as Nguyeãn vaên Thuaän, Phanxicoâ Xavieâ, in Vietnamese.
Education. When he was very young, he entered the Minor Seminary of An Ninh, Huê; later, he studied at the Major Seminary of Phu Xuan, Huê (philosophy and theology); after his ordination, he went to Rome in 1955 and studied spirituality; and obtained a doctorate in canon law in 1959.
Priesthood. Ordained, June 11, 1953, Huê. Pastoral work, 1953-1955. Further studies, Rome, 1955-1959. In the archdiocese of Huê, successively, 1959-1967, charged with the formation of priests; faculty member and rector of its seminary.
Episcopate. Elected bishop of Nha Trang, April 13, 1967. Consecrated, June 4, 1967, Hué, by Angelo Palmas, titular archbishop of Vibiana, apostolic delegate in Viêt Nam, assisted by Philippe Nguyen Kim Dien, of the Petit Frères de Jésus, titular archbishop of Pario, apostolic administrator, sede plena, of Hué, and by Jean-Baptiste Urrutia, M.E.P., titular archbishop of Carpato. Promoted to titular archbishop of Vadesi and appointed coadjutor of Thành-Phô Chi Minh, Hôchiminh Ville (Saigon), April 24, 1975. Jailed by the Communist government, 1975-1988, spent 9 years in isolation; was never tried or sentenced; freed November 21, 1988 and obligated to reside in the archbishop's house in Hânoi, impeded to return to his see, Hô-Chi-Minh-Ville (ex-Saigon). Declared persona non grata by the government of Viêt Nam during a visit to Rome in 1991, where he remained. Member of the International Catholic Commission for Immigration, Geneva, Switzerland, 1992. Resigned the coadjutorship, November 24, 1994. Vice-president of the Pontifical Council Iustitia et Pax, November 24, 1994; president, June 24, 1998. Attended the Special Assembly for Asia of the World Synod of Bishops, Vatican City, April 19 to May 14, 1998; by papal appointment. Attended the Special Assembly for Oceania of the World Synod of Bishops, Vatican City, November 22 to December 12, 1998. Attended the II Special Assembly for Europe of the World Synod of Bishops, Vatican City, October 1 to 23, 1999. Preached the Lent Spiritual Exercises for the pope and the Roman Curia, March 12 to 18, 2000.
Cardinalate. Created cardinal deacon in the consistory of February 21, 2001; received the red biretta and the deaconry of S. Maria della Scala, February 21, 2001. Viêt Nam's Foreign Ministry eased restrictions and the cardinal would face only routine immigration procedures when entering the country and would be afforded all the privileges normally given to overseas citizens, February 27, 2001. Attended the X Ordinary Assembly of the World Synod of Bishops, Vatican City, September 30 to October 27, 2001. The pectoral cross that he wore until his death was one that he made with two small pieces of wood when he was in jail; he protected the cross hiding it in a piece of soap so that his jailers would not confiscate it; when he was freed, he covered the wooden cross with a coat of metal.
Death. September 16, 2002, of cancer, in a Roman clinic. Buried in the chapel of the canons of the chapter of St. Peter's Basilica, Campo Verano cemetery, Rome. At a later day, the body will be buried in the church of S. Maria della Scala, his diaconate.
Beatification. The cause of his beatification was introduced on September 16, 2007. Silvia Monica Correale was named postulator of the cause of beatification. Five years after death is the shortest period of time allowed to initiate the process of beatification.
The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church
(Source: The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church)