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    » 05/13/2010, 00.00


    Hanoi launches a press campaign, using Msgr. Kiet to discredit the Vatican

    Emily Nguyen

    The government media are trying to paint the announced resignation of Msgr. Kiet, for health reasons, as a government victory, presenting itself as the absolute arbiter of religious life in the country, who even the Pope must obey.

    Hanoi (AsiaNews) – A press campaign is underway to represent the upcoming resignation of the Archbishop of Hanoi, Joseph Ngo Quang Kiet as a victory for the Vietnamese government and convince Catholics that any decision on religious life in the country depends on Communist Party. Even the Pope, in this context, must seek its approval.

    Regarding Msgr. Kiet yesterday, the archdiocese said that the bishop has left Hanoi to resume the treatment started already in March - first in Rome and later in Paris - after two months spent at the monastery of Chau Son for the same reasons. He is suffering from chronic insomnia and stress, a condition attributable to the attacks mounted against him by the authorities. For almost two years, he has been unable to sleep. Mgr. Kiet, in a recent interview said that because of his health, he had asked the Holy See to be allowed resign. But neither the Holy See or the Bishops' Conference had accepted the request. Archbishop Kiet has reiterated several times that even during the most difficult moments of his relationship with the government, "the Holy See and the Episcopal Conference were always by my side".

    Here are the facts on the matter. On May 8, in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, the government press campaign got underway, reporting on the installation ceremony of the new coadjutor bishop, Nguyen Van Nhon, underlined a sentence in the official VNA agency, that "once approved by the Prime Minister" the Pope had proceeded with the appointment. The phrase, repeated in all news reports, appears aimed at convincing Catholics that all religious activities in the country need the "approval of the Prime Minister."

    In these days, then, state media have claimed that the resignation of Mgr. Kiet will take place between May 13 and 18. They have received instructions to portray the withdrawal as a victory for the government over the archbishop, who also succeeded in forcing the Vatican to accept a "road map", which raises the retirement of the archbishop of Hanoi as a condition for the establishment of diplomatic relations and a possible visit of Pope According to these journalists, local government authorities are preparing a party to celebrate the "victory".

    The wide coverage of these events is creating discomfort and doubts among Vietnamese Catholics. The government campaign, in short, is spreading the belief among the faithful that the Holy See is willing to sacrifice a bishop, loved by the Catholics and hated authorities to achieve its “diplomatic” objectives.

    The Dominican, Nguyen Xuan Que, writes "Vietnamese Catholics have lost a lot of confidence in the politics of Vatican Diplomacy and the Conference of Bishops. They do not believe in the path, and are convinced that the Vatican does not understand the Vietnamese Church and does not know the actual reality of this Church”.  "The Vatican knows nothing of today's Vietnam," echoes a missionary who has lived in Vietnam for many years.

    This belief is strengthened by those who fear that a new era - seen as negative – is being born in the relations between the Vatican and the Vietnamese government, fuelled by rumours that together with the resignation of Mgr. Kiet, the resignation of the Bishop of Vinh, Paul Mary Cao Dinh Thuyen, will also be announced. Both have a history of determined resistance and opposition to any attempt by authorities to restrict religious freedom or misappropriation of church property.  

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    See also

    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.

    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.

    26/04/2010 VIETNAM
    Concern in some Catholic circles, over appointment of Hanoi coadjutor
    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

    11/05/2010 VIETNAM - VATICAN
    The archbishop of Hanoi resigns. Triumph of the regime
    The prelate hated by the government should leave by mid-month. State media are preparing to celebrate his departure as a "victory" of the regime, which laid down a "road map" to the Vatican. The most likely hypothesis is that the resignation of Mgr. Ngo is the price to open diplomatic dialogue with the Vatican and to allow a visit by Benedict XVI in Vietnam in 2011. Astonishment and sorrow among the faithful.

    12/04/2010 VIETNAM
    Archbishop Kiet back in Hanoi
    His return to Vietnamese capital sooner than announced by the same prelate who had gone to Rome to undergo medical treatment. New rumours on the possibility that the prelate will be removed from the archdiocese, as repeatedly requested by local authorities.

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