» 11/21/2011 VIETNAM Thai Ha priest insulted and threatened during Mass by Mai Khoi A uniformed man bursts into the church in front of indifferent police agents, scaring children who were attending a weekly mass for Eucharistic groups. Some fear the act might be followed by more terrorist actions.
Hanoi (AsiaNews) – Hundreds of children from Eucharistic groups were attending Mass yesterday morning in Thai Ha Parish Church, Hanoi, when a local uniformed civil defence team member (pictured) entered the building shouting and proffering threats against the celebrating priest. His actions had the effect of frightening the children. Outside, dozens of plainclothes police agents witnessed the incident but chose not to intervene.
In an open attempt at intimidation, the man crossed the church courtyard, patrolled by plainclothes police, shouting and swearing. Wielding an electric baton, he burst into the church, smoking. When he reached the altar where Fr Martin Vu Dong was celebrating the weekly Mass for the parish’s Eucharistic groups, he began hurling insults and threats at him.
Since police did not move in to remove the man, adults present in the church apprehended him and escorted him out of the building. “It was true act of terrorism that really scared the children,” said Bac, a parishioner present at the incident, “especially if you consider that uniformed police were pacing up and down in the church courtyard with a scary attitude.”
Yesterday’s sacrilegious act not only offended Catholics and others, but also raised fear that it might be the harbinger of terrorist acts against a parish resisting the unjust action of the state over disputed church land.
In the Thai Ha case, where the church has been under siege since 2008, religious and lay people have been protesting the latest arbitrary decision by local authorities to build a sewage treatment plant for a nearby hospital on the little land that is left to the Redemptorist community.
Instead of meeting the parish demand to stop a potential dangerous plan, the authorities responded on 3 November by attacking the church and monastery with police agents and agents provocateurs, accompanied by a TV crew.
However, the attacks against Thai Ha Redemptorists and parishioners has backfired, causing a wave of solidarity in Vietnam and abroad. For example, the archbishop of Hanoi wrote a letter defending the Redemptorists. Mgr Michael Hoang Duc Oanh, bishop of Kontum, did the same. Mgr Francis Nguyen Van Sang, bishop of Thai Binh, personally visited the church. Prayer vigils have been held across the country, but also in the United States and Australia.