Hue (AsiaNews) - The diocese of Hue has announced that Nguyen Minh Triet, President of the Republic of Vietnam, will attend the closing ceremony of the Jubilee Year of the Church of Vietnam. According to state media he will speak and deliver an address, along with other bishops and the papal legate, Cardinal. Ivan Dias, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.
Just yesterday, the Vatican press office released a letter from Benedict XVI to Cardinal. Dias where he was appointed him special envoy to the celebrations. The Jubilee Year began November 24, 2009, the feast of Vietnamese martyrs, and will end on January 4 -6, 2011 at the national shrine of La Vang (see photo). The year of celebration recalls the 350 years since the foundation of the Apostolic Vicariate in Vietnam and 50 years since the establishment of the local Church hierarchy.
Vietnamese Catholics both at home and abroad alike have expressed their shock and sadness to the honour the archdiocese has granted to a person who always acts in defiance of the Church’s fundamental moral principles. (see Abortion). Moreover, they see the president as responsible for all violations of religious freedom occurring in the country: expropriation of land, parishes and monasteries, physical violence against Christians; manipulation of Episcopal appointments.
Some Catholic websites recall that in the past no leader of South Vietnam (such as Ngo Dinh Diem and Nguyen Van Thieu, both Catholics) have ever claimed to speak at public ceremonies. "Why - asks one website – is the atheist Triet being allowed to give a 'sermon' in a mass?".
The suspicion of some is that the invitation to Triet is the result of pressures from the " Catholic Committee of solidarity in Vietnam”, the organization founded in '75, in charge of establishing an independent church.
For now, the content of Triet’s speech is unknown, but Catholics fear that he will use the phrase that Benedict XVI expressed in June 27, 2009, during the Ad Limina visit of the Vietnamese bishops. In his discourse the pope said that "a good Catholic is a good citizen." Severed from its context, the phrase has often been used in these two years to demand the bishops and faithful complete submission to the authorities of the regime.
In the letter to Card. Dias, Pope Benedict welcomes the commitment of the Vietnamese Church in the evangelization of the country, which is capable of bringing greater development to the whole people.