Salt and Light has already produced three documentaries on the lives of the saints (Love is a Choice (St. Gianna Beretta Molla); Opus Dei: Decoding God’s Work (St. Josemaria Escriva Balaguer): and Saints: Gospel Artists (featuring new Blesseds and Saints). These films have been shown throughout the world and garnered prizes at international film festivals, but more importantly they have served to inspire and remind the faithful of the power of faith to transform individual lives and society at large.
Our next production is perhaps our most ambitious. We are currently preparing an hour-long documentary on the life of the Vietnamese Cardinal Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan. A political prisoner of the Communist regime for thirteen years, nine of which he spent in solitary confinement, Van Thuan’s experience is a powerful testimony of faith in the Eucharist and in the power of forgiveness and the redemptive value of the cross.
Cardinal Van Thuan’s writings and spiritual insights written in prison, where he celebrated the Mass in secret with a drop of wine in the palm of his hand, have spread around the world giving hope to millions. We were deeply inspired to make this documentary by the words of Pope John Paul II at the conclusion of the Lenten retreat that Cardinal Van Thuan preached to the Roman Curia in 2001: “With simplicity and the breath of divine inspiration, he has guided us in deepening our vocation of witnessing to evangelical hope at the beginning of the third millennium. A witness of the cross in the long years of imprisonment in Vietnam, he has frequently recounted the realities and episodes from his sufferings in prison, thus reinforcing us in the consoling certainty that when everything crumbles around us, and perhaps even within us, Christ remains our unfailing support.”
In September 2007 the cause for Cardinal Van Thuan’s Beatification will be opened in Rome. As a prisoner he underwent the most brutal torture and dehumanization, but Van Thuan always strove to love the very prison guards who abused him. Some of the guards were so moved by his example they later converted to Christianity. Van Thuan would later write, “…only Christian love can change hearts, not weapons and not threats…it is love that prepares the way for the announcement of the gospel. Omnia Vincit Amor “Love conquerors everything.”
Salt + Light Television now wishes to continue to spread Van Thuan’s message of hope and love. We are working closely with the family of Cardinal Van Thuan, the Vietnamese Diaspora and the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace to ensure this documentary is an accurate portrayal of Cardinal Van Thuan, a witness of hope. If you have any insights or if you have been touched by the writings of Cardinal Van Thuan let us know!