12/28/2007, 00.00
VIETNAM
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For the first time Hanoi’s Catholics take to the streets to ask for justice

by Nguyen Van Tranh
In 4-5 thousand, bearing candles, they peacefully asked and prayed that a building that had housed the Apostolic delegate and is part of the Archbishopric, be restored to the community. The building, which most recently has been used as a night club, is also the subject of a petition presented to the local government.

Hanoi (AsiaNews) – For the first time Hanoi’s Catholics have taken to the streets.  On Christmas Eve (see photo) between 4 and 5 thousand people peacefully held a torchlight protest to ask the government to restore a building to the Church which belonged to the Apostolic delegation.  The building was expropriated by the local authorities and is currently being used as a nightclub.

The Catholics prayed that justice would triumph, as a pastoral letter dated December 15th from the Capitals’ archbishop, Joseph Ngo Quang Kiet asks.

A petition was also presented on December 23rs asking for the restitution of the building which is part of the Archbishopric and Cathedral complex: “I hope – a student told AsiaNews – that local authorities will deal with the social issues for people. We want to tell the truth, presenting our petition so that according to national law our rights are protected. The local authorities have been using the lands and places for business or administrative work”.

The issues do not only regard the former seat of the Holy See diplomatic delegation. “After 1954 (when communists from the north seized power, ed) – another young student adds – Church property such as the Churches of St Paul and De La Salle, the seminary of Lieu Giai, the school of Dung Lac and Teresa Printing House were expropriated and transformed into hospitals and government offices”.

In Hanoi it is said that when the government takes over places it means that they are “religious believers”.  “They think – he adds – that someone is organising events against the government.  But we Catholics only carry out religious activity according to our faith; we do not carry out political activities against our country”.

 

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