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Pope Francis signs decree declaring Cardinal Van Thuan venerable

Cardinal François-Xavier Nguyen Van Thuân in Rome in 2001 (CNS)

Pope Francis has signed a decree recognising the heroic virtues of Vietnamese Cardinal Nguyen Van Thuan.

Cardinal Thuan was Archbishop of Saigon when the city fell to Communist forces at the end of the Vietnam war. He was imprisoned for 13 years by the country’s Communist government, spending nine in solitary confinement.

The archbishop spent much of his time in prison smuggling out secret messages to the faithful, which were eventually compiled in the book The Road of Hope.

After his release in 1988 he was kept under house arrest before being exiled in 1991 when he was not allowed to return from a trip to Rome.

He was later appointed President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, and was made a cardinal by Pope John Paul II in 2001.