» 09/15/2008, 00.00
Hanoi authorities’ unkept promises over Thai Ha
In a letter Redemptorist superior describes his attempts to solve by dialogue the dispute over land seized from the parish. Nine Vietnamese bishops have come to express their solidarity to the faithful who demand justice and non-discrimination for Catholics.
Hanoi (AsiaNews) – Only promises that were not even kept is what Fr Vincent Nguyen Trung Thanh, Redemptorist superior in Vietnam, was able to get from Hanoi authorities after trying to engage them in a dialogue in order to solve the dispute over Thai Ha Parish land which Catholics are trying to peacefully recover. It is also the gist of a letter he sent to Redemptorists around the country, urging them to pray for the parish and ask for the help of saints and the blessed who suffered persecution.
In a letter to AsiaNews Fr Nguyen Trung Thanh also called for continued coverage of the Thai Ha affair since the “Communist Party relies on state media for its own purposes, spreading distorted information, bearing false witness with false witnesses against us.
In the letter dated 4 September he wrote: “We were able to talk to top officials in the Committee for Religious Affairs and the Public Security Ministry and present them with our aspirations for justice and peace.”
In his approach to the authorities clergyman demanded they end their anti-Catholic campaign, and “stop all reports on newspaper, radio and television that bear false accusations to defame us, [. . .] release all those who have been arrested,” and “seriously discuss with us the Thai Ha dispute in order to return the land to us.”
“There were promises [from state officials],” he said, but unfortunately “even the simple promise to stop the assault by state-run on against us was never respected!”
Still Catholics continue to offer gestures of solidarity and communion with Thai Ha parishioners. Altogether nine bishops from northern Vietnam have come to the parish to pray for justice, truth and Christians’ faith. Hundreds of priests have celebrated Mass every day to an average of about 2,000 people who every day take part in the prayer vigils demanding justice (see photo).
“We come here,” a group leader told AsiaNews, “to pray Mother Mary and call on local authorities to return the land to the parish, acting with justice towards us and without discrimination towards Vietnamese Catholics.”
“We want our country to develop economically, socially and culturally as well as in terms of religious freedom. The authorities must find ways to address this problem. They should not use repression and violence against people. Revolutionary cadres must serve the people with the utmost dedication,” he said. “Lest they forget, Vietnam’s Catholics have had many experiences, and the more we have been persecuted, the stronger has grown our faith.”
With the collaboration of J.B. An Dang.
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