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    » 06/27/2012, 00.00

    VIETNAM

    Bishop of Kontum denounces the Vietnamese authorities for seizing religious buildings



    In a letter the prelate calls for "fairness and justice" and defends the "feelings of the people." Issue at stake, three properties "borrowed" by the authorities and never returned. For Msgr. Michael Hoang Duc Oanh religious freedom is also a matter of "application of the law" and the principles of "truth, justice and love."

    Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews / EDA) - A battle to achieve "fairness and justice," to safeguard "the feelings of the people" Vietnamese and Catholic and their legitimate "interests". This is the message at the heart of a letter written by Msgr. Michael Hoang Duc Oanh, bishop of the diocese of Kontum in the Central Highlands, regarding Church property illegally confiscated by local government. In the letter addressed to the highest institutions of the province, the prelate, a passionate defender of religious freedom in past campaigns (see AsiaNews 05/03/2012 Kontum: attack against priest and Christians generating "frustration and misunderstanding"), denounces "the destruction of a key charity centre", the latest act of a series of seizures and confiscations of property and assets belonging to the Vietnamese Catholic Church.

    The open letter was dated 28 May, but only in recent days appeared on the Vietcatholich News section in the local language. It is addressed to the President of the People's Committee of the province of Kontum and, in the first instance, wants to clarify that the loss of property or tangible property is not a "mortal wound". However, Msgr. Michael Hoang Duc Oanh adds that the fight for religious freedom also involves the "defense of justice and inalienable rights" of people and property, taken "on loan" from local governments in recent decades and never returned.

    The prelate cites "several sources" according to whom the provincial section of the Ministry of Education "is preparing to demolish the Kontum diocese charity center" to build in its place, "an institute for the training of nursery school personnel". The manner by which authorities have requisitioned the property, according to Msgr. Michel, is symptomatic of the "manner and political ways of a regime." Regardless of the fact that the property belonged to the Church and "should be returned to its rightful owner," added the bishop, the local authorities "continue to act as if nothing has happened and violate the very principles they have laid down."

    In practice, there are three cases mentioned explicitly by the Bishop of Kontum: the convent of the Sisters of Charity, built in the 1930s, and demolished to make way for a government institution, the expulsion of the Sisters of Providence from their convent and who have been left for 30 years without a home, the charity center "borrowed" in 1978 and never returned. In addition there are other small and large examples of violations, leading religious and faithful to loose trust in the government and its institutions.

    "This case is not just a matter of goods and property," adds Msgr. Michael Hoang Duc Oanh. "It is a factor of fairness and justice: it is also a question of people's feelings, their rights, the law and the wellbeing of the individual." We are not asking for "favors," said the prelate, but "we just want to be treated with the same justice that is due to all citizens who have the right to live successfully in a society where the law is fully applicable in practice" built on the principles of "truth, justice and love."

     

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    See also

    26/05/2011 VIETNAM
    Archbishop of Hanoi against the demolition of Sisters of Saint Paul convent
    The bishop sent a letter to the "competent authorities at all levels", claiming the rightful ownership of the building. Yesterday a meeting with the local government, described as "a waste of time." The pain of the faithful for the continuing cases of forced evictions, despite a 2004 law to protect places of worship.

    08/01/2009 VIETNAM
    New directive from Hanoi on Church property: nothing will be given back
    A norm, with obscure provisions, affirms that the use of ecclesiastical property granted by the state to "organizations" must respect the purpose of this property, and not offend the sentiments of the faithful. Who will be harshly punished if they protest.

    28/01/2010 VIETNAM
    Danang 400 Catholic families thrown out of their homes to build a resort
    Hundreds of police surround the parish of Con Dau, that was preparing to celebrate the 80 years since its foundation. Massive hike in land prices pushes the authorities to "replace" the two thousand inhabitants with a luxury tourist destination.

    15/12/2010 VIETNAM
    New threats and attacks by authorities against the Redemptorists in Vietnam
    Officials order the religious men of the church of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Ho Chi Minh City to remove articles, described as "anti-government", from their newsletter. The texts speak of religious property disputes and attacks against Catholics. The Superior forced to attend a "working session".

    08/10/2010 VIETNAM
    Vietnamese church launches first ever Justice and Peace Commission
    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.



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