Vietnamese church launches first ever Justice and Peace Commission
by J.B. An Dang
The decision was announced today during the eleventh meeting of the Conference of Bishops. The Commission, the first since the advent of communist rule, will work with bishops and diocesan organizations to defend human rights and religious freedom.

Hanoi (AsiaNews) - For the first time since 1975, Vietnam will have a Justice and Peace Commission. The decision was approved at the Eleventh Meeting of the Vietnamese bishops' conference that ended today in Ho Chi Minh City.

The Commission will work together with the bishops and human rights organizations in the various dioceses. The aim is to defend the sanctity and dignity of man according to the teachings of the Church's social doctrine, even in the face of continued abuses made by the government against the Catholics and the Church.

Between 1954 and 1975, the Vietnamese regime has confiscated more than 2,250 Church-owned buildings, including churches, monasteries, hospitals and schools. To date the properties have not been returned and remain in the hands of the government. Many properties have been transformed in recent years into shopping malls, private homes and amusement parks.