11/07/2009, 00.00
VIETNAM

No end to authorities battle against religion in Vinh

Riot police and bulldozers to remove a statue of the Virgin from a Catholic cemetery, a priest and his parishioners reported to the police for bringing the author of threats to a priest to the station.

Hanoi (AsiaNews) - Riot police and bulldozers to remove a statue of the Virgin from a Catholic cemetery (see photo), a priest and his parishioners reported to the police for bringing the author of threats to a priest to the station. These are the most recent anti-religious episodes unleashed by the authorities of Vinh.  

The facts. On 5 November, the pastor of Bau Sen, Father Peter Nguyen Van Huu, was detained by police on his way to an annual retreat in the Episcopal seat of Xa Doai. While he was detained, dozens of officers in riot gear, backed up by militants removeda statue of Our Lady from the parish cemetery.

It brought to an end and episode that began on 21 September 2008, when the People's Committee of Bo Trach, Quang Binh province, published a decree 3150 QÐ - DC, which required the parish to remove the statue within five, which the faithful had erected in April on a rock inside the cemetery, across the street from the parish.  

The decision and the subsequent wave of protests by Catholics were stopped by the arrival of Typhoon Ketsana. On 16 October, after the storm, the authorities resumed their work. An anonymous source, within the Patriotic Front has indicated that the demolition has been allocated a budget of 1.2 billion dond almost 68 thousand dollars, a considerable amount for a province as poor as Quang Binh. All accompanied by threats and intimidation towards the priest and his parishioners.  

 The fate of the statue is still unknown; the parishioners are demanding its return.

 The second incident was reported by Father John Nguyen Minh Duong, of Ke Sun, during the annual retreat for priests at Doai Xa, 3 to 7 November, during which the diocesan program for the upcoming national jubilee was considered as well as the situation of parishes and the safety of priests, after the violence suffered in August by fathers Paul Nguyen Dinh Phu and Peter Nguyen The Binh.    

Father Duong then spoke of an episode dating to 27 August, during the celebration of marriage of 22 couples. Another couple, presented itself at the ceremony asking to be married.  The priest objected stating he did not know them, had no idea of their Catholic faith and that in order to celebrate the religious ceremony, they must first participate in the preparatory course.  

This strange event was followed by a series of anonymous threats received by the priest on his cell phone. Parishioners then set themselves to find out and have identify the person responsible for the threats, who confessed. The parishioners took him to the police, but soon after, the man was released.

The next day, the priest and some members of the pastoral council received a police summons, who accused them of attacking the man and detaining him illegally.  

"From victims to criminals," commented Father Duong in a letter to the Bishop Marie Paul Cao Dinh Thuyen and various national security agencies.

 

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