04/27/2011, 00.00
VIETNAM

Bishop of Kontum held by police on charges of having "baptized people"

by J.B. An Dang
Bishop Michael Hoang Duc Oanh was able to celebrate Easter Mass in the Montagnard village of Lang Son, where he was prevented froming celebrating Christmas. He found policemen and women of the Communist League outnumbering the faithful.

Kontun (AsiaNews) - He was able to celebrate Easter Mass, but was detained and brought to the police station, on charges of of having baptized people. It is yet another violation of religious freedom by the authorities of Lang Son, K'Bang County  (central Vietnam), in the area of the Montagnards and it happened to Bishop Michael Hoang Duc Oanh, who was previously prevented from celebrating mass for Christmas in the same village.

In view of Easter, the bishop had sent numerous petitions to the authorities at all levels, asking for permission to celebrate Mass in a village where it has never been possible to celebrate the Eucharist. Permission was granted.

But when Msgr. Duc Oanh arrived, along with a priest, he found a hostile atmosphere because police and women of the Communist League women outnumbered the faithful, controlling and mocking the Catholics and the bishop. A long queue of Catholics requested permission to confess. The celebration of the sacrament of reconciliation took place to the sound of laughter and jokes at the gestures of the faithful.

And after the Mass, the bishop and the priest were brought to the police station and subjected to interrogation for hours. The officials accused the bishop of violating the permit that "only allowed the celebration of Easter Mass, as he had also" baptised persons "," deliberately exceeding what was allowed”.

The bishop protested, denying that he had "baptized people," he explained that he had only helped the faithful to reconcile themselves with God. "Before eating - he said - you wash your hands. Likewise, before attending the Mass, we wash ourselves, reconciling ourselves with God."

The concern of the communist authorities and their charges are explained by the fact that the diocese is witnessing a large number of conversions, with 50 thousand baptisms over the past two years.

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