10/07/2008, 00.00
VIETNAM
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Solidarity of U.S. bishops with Vietnamese episcopate

Support expressed in a letter from the president of the committee for international peace and justice. The newspaper of the communist party announces the inauguration of the public park built on the disputed land of the former apostolic delegation.

Hanoi (AsiaNews) - After threats, arrests, disinformation, and beatings, the authorities of Hanoi are trying the approach of the fait accompli. Nhan Dan, the newspaper of the communist party, announces that the disputed complex of the former apostolic delegation of Hanoi has become a public park, which will be inaugurated on October 3. The newspaper also publishes the photo, reproduced here, with benches, paths, flowers, and the building where a library is supposed to be installed. Nhan Dan also recalls that the land was "controversially claimed" by the diocese, but without adding further polemics.

But if the newspaper also publishes the opinion of a citizen who calls turning the land into a public park "a great idea," the Vietnamese episcopate, and the archbishop of Hanoi in particular, are receiving solidarity from the committee for international peace and justice of the United States conference of Catholic bishops. In a letter to the president of the Vietnamese bishops, Bishop Peter Nguyen Van Nhon, committee head Bishop Thomas G. Wenski expressed his solidarity with the Vietnamese Church, and his support for the request for dialogue advanced by the episcopate, and in particular for the archbishop of Hanoi, "falsely accused of inciting riots by the local authorities."

"I was deeply saddened," writes the American bishop, "to learn of the escalation in tension between the Church and Vietnamese local authorities as bulldozers arrived at the site of the building formerly occupied by the Apostolic Nunciature in Hanoi. This turn of events is all the more worrisome given what appeared to have been an agreement reached in February to resolve such disputes over property and land in a peaceful manner through dialogue. Certainly when Monsignor Parolin headed a Vatican delegation to Vietnam in June 2008, there had been talk of 'gradual restoration to ecclesiastical use of properties previously nationalized.' This recent unilateral action by the Vietnamese government is in direct contravention to those earlier discussions."

Bishop Wenski also expresses "solidarity with the Church in Vietnam in this difficult time, and "support" for the statement of the Vietnamese episcopate of September 25, calling for “frank, open and sincere dialogue, in peace and mutual respect." Finally, he expresses his "strong support" for the decision of the bishops to stand by the archbishop of Hanoi, and prays that God "will continue to give strength and grace in this trying time" to his brother bishops and to the faithful.

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