09/24/2009, 00.00
VIETNAM

Hue archbishop slams police for violence in Loan Ly

Mgr Étienne Nguyên Nhu Thê is outraged and bewildered by the ‘arbitrariness and violence” shown by the authorities in relation to an issue involving a religious group that was handled without consulting religious leaders.
Hue (AsiaNews/EdA) – Mgr Étienne Nguyên Nhu Thê, archbishop of Hue, issued a strongly-worded official protest against police brutality in Loan Ly Parish. In a letter addressed to the diocese, the archbishop said that he personally visited the Religious Affairs Bureau (in Thua Thien-Hue Province), whilst the auxiliary bishop, Mgr François-Xavier Lê Van Hông, visited the victimised parish to show his solidarity. He also called on all Christians to pray for the victims.

“When the affair broke out in Loan Ly on 13 September, the diocese’s two bishops were on a religious mission outside the country,” said the letter, which was translated by Églises d’Asie. “When they arrived back in Hue they got in touch with the priest in charge of the Hai Van deanery and the priest responsible for Loan Ly Parish.”

What transpired was that on the night of 13 and 14 September, security agents and some thugs surrounded the parish compound (pictured) and, using violence and cruelty, cleared a school used for catechism, and erected a ring-wall around it.

On hearing what was happening, local Christians rushed to their parish church, which the government had seized in 1975, to resist the brutal assault by the police, which they were able to do for two days.

“With a delegation, the archbishop arrived at the offices of the Religious Affairs Bureau for the province of Thua Thien-Hue at 10 am, 22 September, outraged and bewildered by the arbitrariness and violence of the authorities in a matter involving a religious community, an issue that they handled without consulting local religious leaders.”

“The following day the auxiliary bishop, at the helm of another delegation, visited the faithful of Loan Ly Parish to encourage and mobilise them.”

“The Archdiocese of Hue as a whole shares the suffering of the priest responsible for the faithful of Loan Ly Parish. It calls on all Catholics in the diocese to be close to the parish in their prayers, so that justice and truth may be respected in our beloved homeland, Vietnam.”

“As Saint Francis’ prayer teaches us, we must under all circumstances live according to the spirit of Christ: “Where there is hatred, let me sow love / where there is injury, pardon / where there is doubt, faith / where there is despair, hope / where there is darkness, light”.

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