10/17/2008, 00.00
VIETNAM

Mayor of Hanoi calls for removal of Archbishop Kiet

In a meeting with Western diplomats, Nguyen The Thao announces that there will be punishments for the priests and faithful involved in demonstrations for the restitution of the former apostolic delegation and the land of the parish of Thai Ha.

Hanoi (AsiaNews) - The mayor of Hanoi announces that there will be legal prosecution of the priests and faithful involved in demonstrations for the restitution of the former apostolic delegation and the land of the parish of Thai Ha (in the photo), and reveals that he has asked for the "removal" of the city's archbishop, Joseph Ngo Quang Kiet.

Both statements are in reference to a meeting between the president of the people's committee of Hanoi (mayor) Nguyen The Thao and foreign diplomats. The subject of his remarks was the matter of the former delegation and the parish of Thai Ha. In the account by the national news agency VNA, during the meeting, held on the 15th, Thao stated that the origin of the affair was "the lack of understanding of the law among the Catholic demonstrators. But "a certain number of priests, under the guidance of Archbishop Ngo Quang Kiet" had "taken advantage of religion, of faith and ignorance," in order to violate the law "intentionally," and "to act contrary to the interests of both the state and the Church." This "has had a negative impact on relations between the committee and the archdiocese and the parish of Thai Ha." Thao added that "the city has sent a warning to Kiet and to the priests involved, while the police have begun legal action against those involved in public disorder and the destruction of property."

It seems here that the state news agency has overlooked an important piece of information, reported by another media outlet, the Courrier du Vietnam, which is monitored but not official. The mayor, according to the Courrier, "then asked for the removal of Ngo Quang Kiet from his position as archbishop of Hanoi, in that 'he no longer has the trust of the population of Hanoi, and of Christians'." He "has not respected the authorities or cooperated with them" to resolve the problem, despite the efforts of the authorities themselves "to persuade dignitaries and Christians to leave the occupied land."

With the clear intention of balancing the considerations of religious freedom in Vietnam, disrupted by his words, at the conclusion of his remarks the president of the people's committee of Hanoi spoke of "the contribution made by Catholics in the process of renewing the country," and added that, "in recent years, local authorities have constantly sought to create favorable conditions for religious activities, including the setting aside of areas for numerous religious organizations."

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