12/01/2008, 00.00
VIETNAM
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Prayer vigil in Ho Chi Minh City for parishioners of Thai Ha

by J.B. An Dang
5,000 go to the Redemptorist monastery, where a screen displays the faces of the eight faithful who will be tried. University students perform a play about those who were martyred in the attempt to wipe out Catholicism.

Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) - A prayer vigil saw 5,000 Catholics come together on Sunday night in Ho Chi Minh City, next to the monastery of the Redemptorists, to demonstrate their solidarity with the parishioners of Thai Ha who will be tried on December 5 for asking for the restitution of the land belonging to their church. Another vigil saw the presence of many Catholic university students, who also put on a play (in the photo) commemorating the martyrs of the past century, when the authorities tried to destroy Catholicism. Hundreds of agents, with the clear aim of intimidation, photographed and filmed those present.

At the monastery of the Redemptorists, 160 priests from the city and the nearby provinces concelebrated the Mass, while a screen displayed the faces of the eight Catholics accused of damaging state property and violating public order.

The approach of the trial, which is clearly political in nature, has urged the superior of the Redemptorists in Vietnam, Fr. Vincent Nguyen Trung Thanh, to write a letter to all of his fellow religious, asking them to pray for the accused. "More than anyone," it says, "we know well that they are innocent, not only innocent according to their own conscience, but also according to the law. However, they are still charged and prosecuted.” "The Beatitudes," he added, "are an invitation for us and these faithful to accept adversities and tragedies, and to put our trust in God who will transform our sufferings into benefits for those who love Him."

To the faithful who have decided to follow their Master, Fr. Nguyen finally recalled that "more than 2,000 years ago he was prosecuted and killed for his insistency on defending the truth."

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