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    » 01/11/2008, 00.00

    VIETNAM

    A “protest” prayer blocks Hanoi traffic

    J.B. An Dang

    A thousand catholics go in procession to the building that once housed the apostolic delegation which the archbishop wants returned to the Church. A petition drive has been launched in favour of this step. For almost a month the faithful have been gathering to demonstrate their support for the demand.

    Hanoi (AsiaNews) – Traffic came to a halt in Hanoi after a group of Catholics organised a new form of protest. It happened yesterday when, after a Mass celebrated for the 89th birthday of Card Paul Joseph Pham Đinh Tùng, former archbishop of Hanoi, more than a thousand priests, men religious and faithful went in procession to the building that once housed the apostolic delegation that was confiscated by the authorities and is currently being used as a night club with its garden turned into a parking lot for government officials.

    Hanoi’s current archbishop, Mgr Joseph Ngô Quang Kiêt, told his congregation in a letter dated 15 December that the building had been taken over in 1959 and that he was demanding its return. He also invited them to pray so that justice may be done.

    Three days later Hanoi Catholics gathered in front of the building, which is part of a larger compound that includes the Bishop’s Residence and Saint Joseph cathedral, brought flowers and candles, and began praying.

    Yesterday the “protest” prayer took place around noon catching police by surprise. The net result was that traffic was blocked for hours.

    “We vow to fight for the justice to the end”, said one of the demonstrators.

    The 18 December event was the first public demonstration by Catholics in the capital. On the 23rd a petition was launched to be submitted to local government authorities. On the 30th Mgr Joseph Ngô Quang Kiêt met Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyễn Tấn Dũng. But so far nothing has been done.

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    See also

    03/10/2008 VIETNAM
    Now Hanoi trying to pit Buddhists against Catholics
    Deputy public security minister tries to sow divisions among religious groups by raising an old claim about the land where the cathedral, seminary and ex- apostolic delegation now stand, claiming that it was once home to a pagoda. However, a government publication said that the pagoda was once located five kilometres to the north of the disputed land and that it was destroyed in the 1400s.

    02/08/2005 VIETNAM
    Catholic seminarians work for the first time in state-run leprosarium
    The young men provided summer pastoral services in the Van Mon facility; patients and medical staff are grateful for the assistance offered by the future priests.

    25/01/2008 VIETNAM
    Scuffles break out in Hanoi between Catholic demonstrators and police
    Scuffles break out a day after government officials pay a surprise visit to the capital’s archbishop to reduce tensions due to Catholic demonstrations in favour of the archbishop’s demand that the former Apostolic Delegation compound be returned to the Church. Demonstrators entered the building today but were pushed out by kicking and stick-wielding police.

    17/01/2008 VIETNAM
    Praying as victims is how Hanoi bishop responds to government’s veiled threats
    Tensions mount as the issue of illegally-seized Church properties is not solved. City authorities accuse bishop of using freedom of religion to provoke protests against the government. Mgr Joseph Ngô describes the former’s abuses and demands justice.

    31/12/2007 Vietnam
    Vietnamese PM meets bishop of Hanoi to discuss seized Church property
    Talks take place after Catholics stage a protest demanding the return of the nuncio’s building in Hanoi. The community is very hopeful and optimistic that the issue will be solved step by step.



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