» 01/12/2013, 00.00
Carmelite monastery and Church property targeted, archbishop of Hanoi says
In a letter to government and municipal authorities, the prelate reiterates legitimate Catholic rights. He condemns the demolition of an historic sacred place whose religious function should be preserved. He appeals to the faithful to pray and defend the Church's "rightful rights".
Hanoi (AsiaNews) - "The land and the Carmelite monastery at 72 Nguyễn
Thái Học Street belong to the Archdiocese of Hanoi." The Church "never offered the
government any of the 95 buildings that the latter is using across the city," wrote
Mgr Peter Nguyen Van Nhon, archbishop of Hanoi, in a letter to Prime Minister Nguyễn
Tấn Dũng and the municipal authorities posted on the archdiocese's website.
On 3 January, the authorities began tearing
down the Carmelite monastery to build a new, five-storey
hospital. However, Catholic sources believe there is more than meets the
eye, and plans other the hospital might be involved. The monastery with its
church has been located at 72 Nguyễn Thái Học Street for more than a century.
After the recent
conviction of young activists, the archbishop of Hanoi, Mgr Peter
Nguyen Van Nhon, sent an urgent letter to Vietnam's prime minister, his fifth appeal,
in order to stop this latest attack against the Catholic community. He also
wrote to municipal authorities for the same reason. However, so far his rightful
requests have fallen on deaf ears.
In the letter, the prelate reminded the authorities that "the Church's essential
mission is to serve the people." In all of its history, the Archdiocese of
Hanoi has given "its warm support to the efforts" made to "meet the health
needs of the city's residents". Speaking about the city's health care
facilities, he said, "Four of Hanoi's ten hospitals use buildings that belong
to the Church".
For Mgr Nguyen Van Nhon, that is not all. Using strong words, he "objects"
to the "illegal demolition" of the Carmelite monastery for three specific
reasons. First, the state has enough land or means to build a hospital or turn existing
buildings into one. Secondly, for Catholics, the Carmelite monastery "is a
historic and sacred place." Finally, the monastery and its adjacent church must
be accessible to the members of Saint Dominic Parish "for the purpose of
In ending his letter, the prelate called on the faithful "to come
together in prayer" to defend the "rightful rights of the Church".
Hanoi Carmelite monastery under government bulldozers. Appeal of the Catholics
The city administration had long threatened threatened the demolition of the historic building, to seize the land and "build a hospital." Church leaders claim legitimate ownership of the area and are appealing to the Prime Minister. Catholic sources accuse "secret projects", "very different" from the official statements.
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The Communist authorities have set their eyes on the monastery’ land. On 26 June police stopped the monks from building a path. The following day the abbot sent a petition of protest to local and international authorities. The monastery can lose its case if the authorities “ignore the law,” said one monk.
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In the dispute over Thai Ha parish property, state TV and government newspapers introduce party officials as priests. For the diocese these men "were ‘ordained’ by the government."
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