Vinh (AsiaNews ) - "We are
very concerned about the situation of the diocese of Vinh . We can not say how
long the attacks, the lies, the slander will continue. It is a dangerous and
worrying situation for Christians", says Msgr . Paul
Nguyen Thai Hop, Bishop of Vinh diocese in the north of the country. In recent
weeks, the prelate and his diocese have been the target of a violent attack -
not just verbal - from the media and the Vietnamese authorities. Catholic
leaders fear further reprisals, the faithful, meanwhile, gather around the
prelate and participate in Mass and religious functions , emphasizing the value
of unity that characterizes and distinguishes the local Church. "We
want peace, freedom and dignity of human rights ," said Msgr. Paul
AsiaNews , but "unfortunately this is not dependent on our will."
On 16 September , bishops, priests and thousands of faithful Vietnamese (pictured) waving Vatican flags and reciting prayers celebrated Mass "for peace and justice " in response to the calumnies of State TV and newspapers that promote a government smear campaign against the diocese of Vinh . The function was held at the Shrine of St. Anthony , a center of pilgrimage in the diocese of Vinh not far from the place where the violent police crackdown took place on September 4.
The dispute is really over events linked to the parish in My yen, which is seeking the release of two parishioners who have been in jail since last June without even a formal accusation being made against them. The diocese of Vinh and its bishop intervened in defense of the imprisoned parishioners, requesting the release , and the entire community , legitimizing the protests . The support of the diocesan Catholic leadership has sparked the reaction of the local and central authorities , who have launched a smear campaign against Msgr. Paul Nguyen Thai Hop and threatened to intervene harshly to quell the protest.
"It seems that the health of the two arrested parishioners is good " confirms Mgr . Paul to AsiaNews , but " in a totalitarian regime you can know nothing about their release." Only the government , added the prelate , " knows when they will be released , but we should not stop asking for their release ."
The diocese of Vinh, the bishop continues , is "a poor diocese at an economic level but rich in Christian tradition and culture. To live, we need peace and freedom - he adds - in order to really fulfill the task of evangelization ." This is why "we need international support and solidarity, so that the government put an end to repression, attacks, lies and slander ." We must demand from the authorities, adds Msgr . Paul , "the observance of human rights and all international conventions they have signed . And also ask for the release of the two parishioners and reparations for the victims of the violence in My yen ."
In the recent past, the Vietnamese government has been involved for some time in a campaign of repression against bloggers, activists and dissidents seeking religious freedom, respect for civil rights, or the end of the one-party state. A petition has been launched for that purpose. In 2013 alone, Hanoi has arrested more than 40 activists for crimes "against the state", a legal notion human rights groups consider too general and vague. The Catholic Church has also been subjected to constraints and restrictions; its members, victims of persecution. In one case back in January, a Vietnamese court sentenced 14 people, including some Catholics, to prison on charges of attempting to overthrow the government, a ruling criticised forcefully by and human rights activists and movements. ( DS )
(J.B. An Dang collaborated )