Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) - At least 3 thousand people, including several non-Catholics, yesterday - Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist - attended the mass celebrated by the Redemptorists in Saigon. The function was held in the evening in the parish of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Ho Chi Minh City, in particular those present prayed for "justice" and "peace" in Vietnam and for the entire Vietnamese population. The demand for justice is doubly tied to land ownership in the light of arbitrary intervention in recent times by the government , resulting in the seizure of land and fields. The ax has also fallen on Hanoi and especially against Catholics, victims of forced evictions or legal disputes over the ownership of lands that drag on for years without results, and in a climate of deep-rooted impunity for officials and government officials.
Even today, farmers in Vietnam account for 75% of over 86 million people that make up Vietnam. In total, agricultural labourers and unskilled workers count for approximately 85% of the population. Their lives are poor, unstable and they have to work every day to earn the little that allows them to survive. Nevertheless, in the past and still today they play a major role in building society and the country, contributing largely to its economic development.
In the recent past, the Catholics of Ho Chi Minh City have prayed for the "injustice" against petitioners from the Con Dau parish in the diocese of Danang (see AsiaNews 12/03/2012 Police threatens violence against Cồn Dầu Catholics), farmers in Tien Lang in the province of Hai Phong, the poor peasants of the province of Hung Yen, Nam Dinh and Saigon itself. Mrs Nguyet, one of the victims of government oppression, who lives in the province of Tien Gian, confirms that she has been fighting for recognition of land ownership "since 1995" with no concrete results. Even from meetings with provincial officials have only emerged empty "promises" and so she now believes that "they are lies." "I'm just one of millions of victims - she told AsiaNews - of government policies and laws on land."
For this reason, the Redemptoristsin Ho Chi Minh City wanted to promote a special Eucharistic celebration. At Mass in the parish of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, the thousands of participants recognized in St. John Baptist "an example for the Vietnamese faithful of today." The faithful recalled his strength and courage to denounce "the dishonesty and cruelty of King Herod."
Despite being one of the most active and effective in the work of mission and promotion of the Christian faith, the Redemptorist Fathers are often the victims of persecution and abuses perpetrated by the government in Hanoi. In the past their activities in the capital and in the former Saigon have been targeted by the authorities, who seized land, destroyed monasteries, vandalized churches, arrested and charged simple faithful and priests. However, the violence has not prevented them from playing a key role in the spread of Catholicism and the teachings of the Church, especially among the poor and the abandoned (see AsiaNews 05/08/2011 Redemptorists teach Church's social doctrine in Ho Chi Minh City).