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    » 04/26/2010, 00.00

    VIETNAM

    Concern in some Catholic circles, over appointment of Hanoi coadjutor

    J.B. An Dang

    Despite repeated statements by Archbishop Kiet, the choice of Mgr. Van Nhon is seen as the result of an agreement between the government and the Vatican, aimed at replacing Mgr. Kiet in exchange for diplomatic relations and a visit by Pope

    Hanoi (AsiaNews) – Concerns are being voiced by some Vietnamese Catholics over the appointment of Mgr. Peter Nguyen Van Nhon, chairman of the Conference of Bishops, to the post of coadjutor to Archbishop of Hanoi.

    This despite the fact that over the past 24 hours Archbishop Joseph Ngo Quang Kiet and his office have released several statements about it. Archbishop Kiet has described the appointment of a coadjutor as "great news" and urged the faithful of Hanoi to "thank God and the Holy See for having sent him to serve the archdiocese and support my frail health." The archbishop also asked the priests to put the name of Mgr. Peter in the prayer for  the local bishop offered in every church during mass.

    The same Mgr. Kiet, in a recent interview said that because of his health, he had asked the Holy See to be allowed resign from his post. But neither the Holy See nor the bishops' conference agreed that he should withdraw. Archbishop Kiet insists that even in the most difficult moments of his relationship with the government, "the Holy See and the Episcopal Conference were always beside me when I was criticized."

    Despite the statements of Mgr. Kiet, in some Catholic circles the appointment of an assistant seems difficult to digest. Some sites, led by Catholics, have been inundated with harsh comments against the Holy See and the Bishops' Conference. For them, the Holy See has succumbed to government pressure by agreeing to remove Archbishop Kiet - something long requested by the authorities - in exchange for the establishment of diplomats relations and a papal visit to Vietnam. Someone even went as far as to say that at such a high cost, neither the diplomatic relations nor a visit by the pope would be welcomed.

    To support their case, those who does not believe the words of Mgr. Kiet emphasize the strangeness of the decision of the Holy See to appoint a coadjutor bishop who is older. They add that the archdiocese of Hanoi, with 335 thousand faithful, 143 parishes and 90 diocesan priests and religious, does not seem to have great need of three bishops (there is also an auxiliary).

    The archbishop of Hanoi in these environments is depicted as a victim of an agreement between the Vatican and the Vietnamese regime intent to solve the question of Church property in its own way. The choice of the government to open up to the free market has indeed led to soaring land prices, making the properties owned by the various religious bodies  particularly attractive. Using the principles according to which "all land  belongs to the people and is managed by the State in the interests of the people" the rulers of a country that is officially combating, but not winning in tha fight against corruption, force religious leaders to "donate" the their land, which is more often than not transformed into luxury hotels, restaurants and nightclubs. And sometimes, to block possible legal actions by religious organisations, demolitions begin even before possible appeals.

    The appointment of Mgr. Van Nhon, considered a "moderate" in this context, is seen as a sign of future negative consequences on the question of Church property.

    And some, like Father Pascal Nguyễn Ngọc Tỉnh, OFM - the biblical scholar who led the group that translated the Liturgy of the hours and is dedicated to the translation of the Bible and the Roman Missal - speaks of the "solitude" of Mgr. Kiet even within the Episcopal Conference.

    "The imminent replacement of Archbishop Joseph Ngo Quang Kiet - he says - is only a matter of time." He, says Father Tinh, has tendered his resignation for health reasons ", claiming to be suffering from a chronic insomnia that causes fatigue. "But where does the insomnia come from?".

    The priest points out that September 20, 2008, when he met the People's Committee of Hanoi and uttered the famous phrase "freedom of religion is a right and not a concession," the archbishop appeared "young, vibrant and dynamic." This affirmation and his staunch defence of the land of the former apostolic delegation and the Thai Ha parish cost him a violent press campaign by state media and violence perpetrated by activists.

    But, although the bishops' conference affirmed that "Archbishop Kiet has not done anything against the law of the Church," Mgr. Kiet was and is "alone".

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    See also

    23/04/2010 VIETNAM - VATICAN
    President of Bishops' Conference becomes Coadjutor to Archbishop of Hanoi
    Bishop Peter Nguyen Van Nhon of Da Lat, 72, is coadjutor to Msgr. Joseph Ngo Quang Kiet, 58. Many suspect that the Holy See has bowed to pressure from the government which wants to remove the archbishop of Hanoi, "instigator of riots." In return there would be diplomatic relations, and Benedict XVI's visit to Vietnam. But the same Bishop. Kiet says: The Holy See has always supported me. The reasons are my health.

    28/04/2010 VIETNAM
    Hanoi authorities convinced they achieved the removal of Mgr. Kiet
    Deputy minister of information’s comments reveal this belief. He has instructed the state media to not cover the eventual removal of the archbishop, "as if it were an internal affair of Catholics." His statements have raised fears of those who see the appointment of a coadjutor in Hanoi as an agreement between the Holy See and the authorities.

    08/05/2010 VIETNAM - VATICAN
    New coadjutor bishop of Hanoi installed amid some protests
    Thousands attended the mass, several hundred protested outside, fearing that Mgr. Kiet will be removed, in compliance with the harsh demands of the government. The vice-president of the Episcopal conference stresses unity and common love for the Church.

    11/10/2008 VIETNAM
    Children's newspaper joins campaign against Catholics of Hanoi
    In the periodical, intended for elementary school children, "a student" says he lost his faith because of the behavior of the archbishop. Superior of Redemptorists ordered to appear in court.

    09/06/2008 VIETNAM – VATICAN
    Holy See delegation in Hanoi
    Led by Mgr Pietro Parolin the group will remain in the country till 15 June. During talks with Vietnam’s political leaders, diplomatic relations with the Holy See will be on the table, so will be the issue of property seized from the Church which local groups want back.



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