04/11/2011, 00.00
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Prayer vigils "respond" to the arrests of Vietnamese Catholics

by Kelly-Ann Nguyen
Soon after the sham trial against a non-Catholic lawyer, defender of human rights, and attacks against those who peacefully followed the debate, the authorities fear a united front that might arise between believers and dissidents.

Hanoi (AsiaNews) - Prayer vigils in several dioceses have been the response of Vietnamese Catholics to new attacks by the authorities on April 4 last at the trial of non-Catholic lawyer and human rights defender Cu Huy Ha Vu, , and the arrest of another lawyer, Le Quoc Quan Catholic. (See AsiaNews: Hanoi Catholics arrested and beaten for wanting to follow Cu Huy Vu trial)

Significantly in Hanoi police tightened security around churches, concerned that a common front between dissidents and believers could be formed. To those suspected of not being Catholic were not allowed to attend Masses celebrated Saturday and Sunday. A young couple told AsiaNews that they were turned back on their way to the Redemptorist church, because neither were able to identify themselves as Catholic to the police.

During the vigil, Brother Nguyen Tang, who had been severely beaten in Dong Chiem, spoke of what happened to the lawyer Le Quoc Quan, who was peacefully following the trial outside the classroom, when "the police caught and beat anyone trying to defend him. They used batons to stun a woman who risked her life trying to get the lawyer away. "

Elsewhere, there was a sea of candles, like at the church of Thanh Minh, in the diocese of Thai Binh, where Father Augustine Pham Quang Tuong led the vigil. To the thousands present the priest expressed concern about the safety of the lawyer Le Quoc Quan, who is a member of the Justice and Peace Committee of the Episcopal Conference.

A hundred miles away, in the southwest of the country, Thai Binh, dozens of priests of the deanery of Dong Thap (diocese of Vinh) took part in the vigil in the church of Ben Den. A large screen placed in front of the church showed the moment when the lawyer and other Catholics were arrested. Those present were invited to pray for Catholics and some journalists were beaten and arrested. The vigil ended with the Eucharistic adoration and the rosary, to pray for the Church and the nation.

Father Paul Nguyen Xuan Tinh, Lap Thanh parish priest led another prayer vigil: "We must pray harder than ever – he told the faithful - when evil seems to triumph over good."

Of note, finally, that the Redemptorists websites based outside of Vietnam have suffered waves of attacks by hackers, since the beginning of the trial.

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