November 1, 2010

The Diocese of Rome formally opened the sainthood process for Vietnamese Cardinal Francois Nguyen Van Thuan, who spent 13 years in prison in communist Vietnam — nine of them in solitary confinement.

After he was freed by authorities in 1988, Pope John Paul II named him vice president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace in 1994 and president of the council in 1998.

He died in Rome in 2002, which is why the diocese formally opened his sainthood cause.

In his 2007 encyclical on Christian hope, Pope Benedict called Van Thuan an exemplary model of maintaining hope through prayer, even in a “situation of seemingly utter hopelessness.”

The formal opening of the cause does not mean that the late cardinal will be beatified or canonized quickly.