12/06/2008, 00.00
VIETNAM

Ahead of trial against faithful of Thai Ha, Catholics welcome a new bishop

by JB. VU
Today is the ordination of Chu Van Minh as auxiliary bishop of Hanoi. Twenty bishops, a thousand priests, religious, and seminarians, and twenty thousand faithful are taking part in the ceremony. Three days before the beginning of the trial, all over the country they are praying for justice and peace.

Hanoi (AsiaNews) - All over Vietnam, they are praying "for justice and peace" today, the day of the episcopal ordination of Lawrence Chu Van Minh, the new auxiliary bishop of Hanoi, which is taking place just three days before the beginning of a trial with clear political connotations against eight faithful of the parish of Thai Ha.

On October 15, the pope appointed Ngo Quang Kiet, archbishop of Hanoi, as the primary celebrant of the ordination. Together with him, the twenty other bishops participating in the ceremony include the president of the Vietnamese bishops conference, Nguyen Van Nhon, the cardinal archbishop of Saigon, JB. Pham Minh Man (in the photo), and the archbishop of Hué, Stephen Nguyen Nhu The. The 20,000 people present include a thousand priests, religious, and seminarians, demonstrating the faith of the Vietnamese people.

The diocese of Hanoi is going through a number of difficulties in this time, because of material factors and spiritual obstacles. Catholics are most anxious over the discrimination and suspicion surrounding them, while the local and central authorities are offering a warm welcome to foreigners for their business collaboration. They have cut financing for economic projects and formational activities in order to keep the money for themselves. But they don't want the Catholics to make any contribution to these activities.

"Catholicism is the religion of love," Bishop Chu Van Minh tells AsiaNews. "Here, love means doing good things for the people. We are close to the joys and sorrows of the people, who do not need nice words right now, but the testimony of love." "We are at the service of the people, of the disadvantaged children, of our brothers and sisters, and the country understands that this service is done out of love for Jesus."

In this context, people all over the country are looking with concern to the trial that will begin on December 8. Charged with "destruction of property" and "disturbance of public order" are eight Catholics who participated in the prayer vigils organized by the parish of Thai Ha, to obtain the restitution of illegally confiscated church property. The parish has announced a prayer vigil on their behalf tomorrow. A statement about the vigil says that they are "witnesses of justice and truth, who have never violated the law and have been arrested and charged unjustly." The initiative of Thai Ha follows a letter from Archbishop Kiet, asking the faithful to pray "for these brothers and sisters who, with courage, are witnessing to justice and truth."

But it is not only in Hanoi that they are praying. Since the announcement of the trial, there have been hundreds of vigils organized all over the country.

The government media are giving no news about any of this. Since the announcement of the trial, the entire question seems to have been shrouded in silence.

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