06/03/2014, 00.00
VIETNAM
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North Vietnamese artist and Communist militant Tô Hai converts to Christianity

After a life of political activism, he calls his baptism an "immense happiness". Awarded by Hanoi with its highest honours, he disavowed Communist ideology in 2009. Redemptorist priests followed him in his spiritual journey. Faith in God is the source of true "peace."

Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews/EDA) - Tô Hai, a famous North Vietnamese composer and now a repentant militant revolutionary, has described his decision to convert to Christianity and be baptised as "an immense happiness at the end of my life".

In 2009, he abandoned Communist ideology and Party after a long and troubled journey that he describes in a book titled 'Diary of a coward.'

In the following years, he embarked on a long journey of spiritual reflection, commenting on the major events and general situation of Vietnam, on his popular blog.

Vietnam's Redemptorists, who recently report his conversion, closely followed his journey of spiritual development. 

At the end of May, Tô Hai wrote on his blog a series of reflections on the current situation of the Asian country, which is involved in a nasty territorial dispute with China in the South China Sea.

In one post, he said, "After a few sleepless nights I finally found the way to a real reason that makes life worth living, a voice I rejected in my childhood: I turned to God! My heart will be at peace now with faith in God. Evil has been chased away and I can live free from anxieties until the day when I will close my eyes forever in this life."

The Redemptorists confirmed his repentance and baptism, noting on their website that "musician Tô Hai just received the sacrament of the Christian faith in the Church of the Redemptorists [...] in Saigon. Since 10 pm on 25 May, he bears the name of Francis Tô Hai."

To mark his entrance in the Catholic Church, the composer wrote a song titled 'God comes to the rescue to the lost'.

Born in 1927 in Hanoi, he was immediately recognised as a virtuoso for his musical skills, which he combined with a passion for revolutionary politics in the Communist Party.

After the country was divided into North and South, he took part in its wars as an artist and an activist. For his body of work, Communist authorities in Hanoi bestowed upon him the regime's highest honours.

However, as time went by his "faith" in Communism and the political revolution gave way to profound spiritual reflections, culminating in 2009 in the publication of his memoir, in English and Vietnamese, which sealed his break with the party.

In the book, he attacked the underlying ideology of Communism and explained the reasons that led to his break with the past, which came with fears of reprisals against him and his family. Yet he continued his journey because, as he wrote, he wanted to stop feeling like a "coward."

In summarising Tô Hai's journey of conversion, his spiritual guide, Fr Mathieu Vu Khoi Phung, cited Fr Chan Tin, a Redemptorist priest imprisoned in Hanoi: "In this world, all revolutions begin with man's liberation and end with his enslavement. Ultimately, only the Lord does the job by freeing us" from slavery.

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