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    » 02/02/2008, 00.00

    VIETNAM - VATICAN

    Archbishop of Hanoi confirms restitution of nunciature, thanks pope

    J.B. An Dang

    In an open letter, Archbishop Joseph Ngô Quang Kiệt has confirmed the government's agreement to return to the Church the use of the building that housed the apostolic nunciature, which the communists took over in 1959. He expressed special thanks to the pope and to Cardinal Bertone, who followed the events in Hanoi "closely and attentively".

    Hanoi (AsiaNews) - The archbishop of Hanoi confirmed yesterday evening that the Vietnamese government is restoring to the Catholic Church the use of the building that housed the apostolic nunciature.  In an open letter addressed to the priests, religious, seminarians, and lay faithful of the archdiocese, the archbishop emphasized his appreciation for the solidarity shown "not only by the faithful of the archdiocese of Hanoi, but by the entire world". 

    Since last December 18th, thousands of Vietnamese Catholic faithful had protested in daily prayer vigils before the former nunciature of Hanoi, to ask the government to return it to the Church.  The building had been confiscated by the communist leadership in 1959.  In these 40 days of protests, the archbishop continued, "We have lived a new Pentecost. We have been united and devoted ourselves to the prayers, despite challenges and hardship”.

    In fact, "under the frigid rain and the biting wind, one cannot help but admire the fervent devotion and the profound attachment to the Church, the bond between pastor and flock, the friendship among the faithful, and the devoted prayers to the Lord.  These are all a gift of grace from God".

    But now, the archbishop and added, "our prayers have been heard.  The restaurant [editor's note: which was to replace the nunciature] has been closed, and our community has taken down the tents that it had set up during the days of protest.  The large cross [editor's note: carried by the faithful to the place of the protest and set beside a statue of the Virgin Mary] was carried back in procession to the Cathedral of St Joseph.  All of this took place at the right time: I could no longer bear to watch you face this frigid winter". 

    The protest of the Vietnamese Catholics was followed by various Catholic news outlets, including AsiaNews, and through these by the entire world.  In conclusion, Archbishop Ngô thanked "the entire Vietnamese people and the people of the world for their prayers and their support", and he wished all "a happy lunar new year, full of God's abundant graces".

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    See also

    31/01/2008 VIETNAM
    A decalogue for the "prayer protests" of the Catholics in Hanoi
    A series of principles of behaviour has been elaborated by the young people who are participating in the peaceful sit-in at the former building of the apostolic delegation. The newspaper of the communist party and the official news agency say the archbishop has been meeting with the leader of the Patriotic Front.

    28/01/2008 VIETNAM
    Hanoi’s Catholics continue protests defying the government’s ultimatum
    The local government threatens “extreme action” if demonstrations do not cease. Media accuse the church of violence against public officials and of spreading public disorder. The diocese responds accusing media of manipulation and reaffirms its ownership of the Nunciature.

    08/01/2009 VIETNAM
    New directive from Hanoi on Church property: nothing will be given back
    A norm, with obscure provisions, affirms that the use of ecclesiastical property granted by the state to "organizations" must respect the purpose of this property, and not offend the sentiments of the faithful. Who will be harshly punished if they protest.

    29/02/2008 VIETNAM
    Underground Buddhists support right of Hanoi Catholics over nunciature building
    A representative of the outlawed Unified Buddhist Church contests the assertions of government-approved Buddhists who are claiming ownership of the entire zone, including the cathedral and the archbishop's residence. It's a claim advanced to beat back the promise to give the Catholics use of the complex.

    07/01/2008 VIETNAM
    Catholics in Hanoi continue peaceful protest
    First public protest by faithful in the Vietnamese Capital asks for the restitution of the Apostolic delegations’ residence to the Church. Taken over by the government during the communist revolution of 1975, the complex was also used as a disco and a car park for state officials.



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