Sri Lankans welcome new apostolic nuncio

Archbishop Pierre Nguyen Van Tot, apostolic nuncio to Sri Lanka, upon his arrival in Colombo, April 3, 2014. Credit: Fr. Sunil De Silva/Archdiocese of Colombo.

Sri Lankan Catholics accorded a traditional welcome to their newly appointed apostolic nuncio, who arrived in Colombo to begin his diplomatic duties April 3.

Archbishop Pierre Nguyen Van Tot as apostolic nuncio to Sri Lanka March 22, 2014. Archbishop Nguyen Van Tot succeeds Archbishop Joseph Spiteri, who served in Colombo from 2009 and who was transferred to Ivory Coast in October.

Archbishop Emeritus Oswald Gomis of Colombo led a delegation on behalf of the national bishops' conference in receiving and welcoming the new papal ambassador at  Katunayake Airport Thursday.

The Church in Sri Lanka welcomed him with floral garlands as a percussion band and dancers processed, preceded by a lit oil lamp.

Among the delegation were Msgr. Renato Kucic, secretary to the apostolic nuncio; Sarath Kumara Gunaratne, a government official; and Fr. Jude Samantha, an official of the nunciature.

Archbishop Nguyen Van Tot was born in Vietnam in 1949, and was ordained a priest of the Phu Cuong diocese shortly before his 25th birthday.

He is an alumnus of the Pontifical Urban University, and published his thesis on “Buddha and Christ: Parallels and similarities in the canonical literature and Christian apocrypha” in 1987.

He was appointed nuncio to Benin and Togo in 2002, and was consecrated a bishop the following year.

Archbishop Nguyen Van Tot then served as apostolic nuncio to Chad and Central African Republic from 2005 to 2008, when he was transferred to Costa Rica. He served there until his current assignment.

In 2012, he wrote a letter to the Church in Costa Rica called “Sobre el recto desempeño del servicio pastoral,” or “On the right discharge of pastoral service,” which addressed the importance of the Eucharist and of its reverent distribution and reception.

His time in Africa and Central America, as well as that in his native Vietnam, has exposed him to war and to a variety of cultures.

Sri Lanka suffered a civil war for nearly 30 years, which ended only in 2009. Over 70 percent of the 20.4 million people in Sri Lanka are Buddhists, and Christians make up an estimated eight percent of the population.


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Spiritual, but not religious? Who to blame for declining church attendance

Father Ronald Rolheiser, OMI

It’s no secret that today there’s been a massive drop-off in church attendance. Moreover, that drop-off in church-going is not paralleled by the same widespread growth in atheism and agnosticism. Rather, more and more people are claiming to be spiritual but not religious, faith-filled but not churchgoers. Why this exodus from our churches?

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