Thousands of Catholics at prayer vigil in Ho Chi Minh City
by J.B. An Dang
Simultaneously with the ceremony, which was intended to express solidarity with the faithful of Hanoi, police in the capital intervened forcefully to disperse the faithful. Arrests and beatings.

Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) - More than 3,000 people took part yesterday evening in the prayer vigil (in the photo) organized at the Redemptorist monastery in Saigon, as a sign of solidarity with the Redemptorists and with the Catholics of Hanoi, who are demonstrating for the restitution of the property illegally seized from the monastery and from the parish of Thai Ha. While the vigil was taking place in Hanoi, the police intervened forcefully to drive the peaceful demonstrators away from the area that they are asking be given back. There were four arrests, and some of the faithful were beaten.

In Ho Chi Minh City, 100 priests from the surrounding cities and provinces concelebrated a Mass on behalf of the Church in Vietnam, and in particular for the faithful of Hanoi. Fr Vincent Nguyen Trung Thanh, superior of the Redemptorists in Vietnam, called upon the religious to thank God for the graces that he has granted to them, and even for suffering and persecution. "Through events in Thai Ha", he said, "we understand the Gospel more clearly. We stand more clearly on the side of the poor, the weak, the marginal, the persecuted, and those suffering injustice. We see more clearly the true face of a world dominated by lies, trickery, and tyranny".

Hundreds of policemen monitored the area where the ceremony took place, photographing and videotaping those present.

In Hanoi, meanwhile, the police intervened to disperse the faithful gathered in prayer on the property illegally seized by the authorities, which they are asking be given back. There were a few arrests, to which the faithful responded with a silent march to the police station of Dong Da, to ask for the liberation of those arrested. Officers in riot gear responded to this peaceful protest with beatings and new arrests.