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    » 11/21/2011, 00.00

    VIETNAM

    Thai Ha priest insulted and threatened during Mass

    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.
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    See also

    28/08/2008 VIETNAM
    Hanoi police threaten Redemptorists and their supporters
    With the clear intention of intimidation, security forces charge the religious with using their influence to incite the faithful in a confrontation with the government, destroying state property, assembling and praying illegally in public areas, and disturbing the public order.

    03/10/2008 VIETNAM
    Now Hanoi trying to pit Buddhists against Catholics
    Deputy public security minister tries to sow divisions among religious groups by raising an old claim about the land where the cathedral, seminary and ex- apostolic delegation now stand, claiming that it was once home to a pagoda. However, a government publication said that the pagoda was once located five kilometres to the north of the disputed land and that it was destroyed in the 1400s.

    08/01/2008 VIETNAM
    Hanoi Catholics demonstrate for parish land
    While peaceful demonstrations for the restitution of the old building of the apostolic delegation in Hanoi continues, parishioners from Yhai Ha ask for church lands to be restored. But this time police intervene.

    18/11/2011 VIETNAM
    Catholics take to the streets in Hanoi demanding justice
    Thousands of faithful began demonstrating this morning to defend Thai Ha Parish against the unlawful seizure of what is left of its land. They also protested against the defamation campaign against them by state TV.

    24/09/2008 VIETNAM
    Communist party attacks archbishop of Hanoi
    Long, accusing articles in the party's newspaper, while the mayor of the capital sends "warnings" to the prelate, to the superior of the Redemptorists, and to three other priests. Announcement that Thai Ha will also become a public park, like the former apostolic delegation.



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