26 August 2016

When church leaders speak out courageously and prophetically, they deserve to be acknowledged and supported. I wish to do that with Bishop Vincent Long Van Nguyen, of Parramatta, a suburb and major business district in the metropolitan area of Sydney, Australia.

Vincent Long Van Nguyen was born in Vietnam and is an Australian Roman Catholic bishop. He and his family came to Australia as refugees in 1980. This year, Pope Francis appointed him the fourth bishop of the Diocese of Parramatta, on 5 May 2016 and he was installed just two months ago on 17 June 2016. 

As reported by Bob Shine, from New Ways Ministry, in his blog “Bondings 2.0,” Bishop Long gave a talk last week titled “Pope Francis and the Challenge of Being Church Today.” In that address he explored the meaning of real church inclusiveness.  

Bishop Long:  

“By that (inclusiveness) I mean there must be space for everyone, especially those who have been hurt, excluded or alienated, be they abuse victims, survivors, divorcees, gays, lesbians, women, disaffected members. The church will be less than what Christ intends it to be when issues of inclusion and equality are not fully addressed. That is why you heard me say that I am guided by the radical vision of Christ. I am committed to make the church in Parramatta the house for all peoples, a church where there is less an experience of exclusion but more an encounter of radical love, inclusiveness, and solidarity. 

“We cannot be a strong moral force and an effective prophetic voice in society if we are simply defensive, inconsistent and divisive with regards to certain social issues. We cannot talk about the integrity of creation, the universal and inclusive love of God, while at the same time colluding with the forces of oppression in the ill-treatment of racial minorities, women, and homosexual persons. It won’t wash with young people especially when we purport to treat gay people with love and compassion and yet define their sexuality as ‘intrinsically disordered.’ This is particularly true when the church has not been a shining beacon and a trail-blazer in the fight against inequality and intolerance. Rather, it has been driven involuntarily into a new world where many of the old stereotypes have been put to rest and the identities and rights of the marginalized are accorded justice, acceptance, affirmation and protection in our secular and egalitarian society.” 

In his closing remarks, the Bishop of Parramatta stressed that the church must reform itself by becoming:   

(1) Less a role of power, dominance and privilege but more a position of vulnerability and powerlessness.  

(2) Less an experience of exclusion and elitism but more an encounter of radical love, inclusiveness, and solidarity.  

(3) Less a language of condemnation but more a language of affirmation and compassion. 

You can express your support for Bishop Vincent Long Van Nguyen, by writing to:  



5 thoughts on “A Prophetic Bishop

  1. “This is particularly true when the church has not been a shining beacon and a trail-blazer in the fight against inequality and intolerance.”
    This is not just a recent complaint. I well remember how the Church lagged behind the State in addressing the American segregation issues in the southern States in the 1940s. There were many shinning examples, of course, but there were too many examples of going along with local customs and attitudes so as not to upset their parishioners. In many issues today, however, the Church lags behind their parishioners in just about every issue involving human sexuality.

  2. Another thing — in this official or formal picture, the Bishop has on a simple black business suit with a white Roman collar. Plain but functional, not like the cassocks & capes of too many Bishops pictured lately, especially when they are wearing the magna cappa in public!!

  3. Thank you, Jack, for sending out this beacon of light and hope that dear Pope Francis may be able to make positive changes to our sometimes atrophied church. Although we grass roots Catholics can make a difference in our world, one bishop like this can spread so much joy with the weight of his office. His simplicity and good heart are so evident by the simple, uncomplicated message of love and compassion. This is so inspiring.

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