May 21, 2012

VATICAN CITY – The world's oldest Catholic bishop, Vietnamese Bishop Antoine Nguyen Van Thien, died May 13 in France two months after his 106th birthday.

The former bishop of Vinh Long, Vietnam, was ordained a bishop in 1961 and he attended all four sessions of the Second Vatican Council in 1962-65.

The Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, said that after seven years as bishop of Vinh Long, in 1968 at the age of 62, he was allowed to resign after "a serious illness."

He lived in Nice, France, since 1985.

The website lists the next oldest bishop as Francis Hong Yong-ho of Pyongyang, North Korea. The Vatican yearbook still lists him as the diocese's bishop, but says he has "disappeared."

He had been arrested by the communists in 1949. If he is alive, he would be 105.

Retired Bishop Gery Leuliet of Amiens, France, is next at 102.

The oldest living Canadian bishop is Archbishop Emeritus Joseph-Aurele Plourde, 97, the former archbishop of Ottawa.