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    » 04/06/2012, 00.00

    VIETNAM

    In Kon Tum, Catholics pray in private homes since the government seized their church

    Nguyen Hung

    The authorities in Hiếu Đạo confiscated the building 30 years ago and have not returned it yet. Nevertheless, the number of believers keeps on growing through conversions. "We are convinced that God will return the altar to us," local bishop tells AsiaNews.

    Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) - For Catholics in one parish located in the Central Highlands of Vietnam, the most precious gift at Easter would be celebrating Mass in their church. This has been denied to them for the past 30 years after local authorities seized their place of worship and never returned it. Despite harassment, local Christians have continued to grow in their faith, engage in pastoral and social work and carry out activities of evangelisation that has resulted in thousands of converts and baptisms. Next Sunday, another group of catechumens will in fact do the same.

    "I hope that in this Easter season, the local government will return our church," said a member of Hiếu Đạo parish. "We need it for Mass and prayer," he told  AsiaNews. The parish itself is in the Diocese of Kon Tum (Gia Lai and Kon Tum provinces), in Vietnam's Central Highlands.

    The local bishop, Mgr Michael Hoàng Đức Oanh, heeded his plea by urging lay people in Kon Tum to "believe in God despite the loss of the church." In fact, "We are firmly convinced that God will return the altar to us."

    During Lent, more than 30,000 Church members took part in retreats, sacraments and confession offered by diocesan priests.

    Since the community still does not have a church, many residents showed their solidarity by making their homes available for Gospel readings and the Rosary. As in the past, Easter this year will see a large number of catechumens undergo baptism. According to diocesan sources, some 5,000 local people embraced Catholicism since 2003,.

    Despite widespread poverty, Catholics in Kon Tum are very much involved in socially relevant activities, like charity work, children's education and care for the sick and the elderly. Funds are also raised to help women start up their own businesses or find jobs.

    All this helps non-Christians as well, including atheists and members of other religions.

    Located in Vietnam's central Highlands, the Diocese of Kon Tum covers an area of 25,000 km2. According to the latest figures (2003), Catholics number 261,000 out of 1.7 million residents.

    The area is poor with an underdeveloped economy. However, it is rich in vocations and conversions, evidence of the vitality of the local Church.

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    See also

    31/03/2010 INDIA
    Easter baptisms, a right and the life of the Church, Card Gracias says
    The president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India gives AsiaNews his personal Easter reflection. He invites the faithful and the clergy to promote with love and courage the Church’s mission rather than fear conversions.

    24/03/2005 ISRAEL – PALESTINE – HOLY LAND
    Jerusalem: the Cross breaks down the wall of fear
    A talk with Fr Pierbattista Pizzaballa, OFM, Custodian of the Holy Land.

    05/04/2012 LAOS
    Laotian Christians challenge official ban and celebrate Holy Week
    Members of two Evangelical communities in the southern province of Savannakhet hold services outside of their confiscated churches. They plan to break the padlocks on their churches unless they are removed. The authorities had closed the buildings down, alleging building permit irregularities.

    18/04/2014 INDONESIA
    Charitable works, confession and Mass fill Holy Week for Indonesian Catholics
    This is a time of meditation, devotions and deep introspection into the faith. In the Archdiocese of Jakarta, families offer small sums of money to fund community-wide projects. The head of the Archdiocese's communications commission releases some videos. During Chrism Mass, hundreds of priests renew their pledge to their bishops.

    29/03/2005 PAKISTAN
    Easter in Pakistan, a time of solidarity despite discrimination




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