HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — Thousands of people attended funeral services Thursday for Cardinal Paul Joseph Pham Dinh Tung, the retired archbishop of Hanoi and advocate for restoring ties between Vietnam and the Vatican.

Tung's funeral was held at St. Joseph's Cathedral. He was to be buried on the church grounds. Tung died Sunday at the age of 89.

"His death is a huge loss for the Catholic community in Vietnam," said the Rev. Nguyen Van Khai, a church official.

Tung worked to improve relations between the Holy See and Vietnam's communist government, which cut off ties with the Vatican after taking power in 1954.

"He helped us overcome uncountable difficulties," Khai said.

Tensions have existed for years between the church and the government, which closely monitors religious groups and insists on approving most church appointments.

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