05/11/2010, 00.00
VIETNAM - VATICAN

The archbishop of Hanoi resigns. Triumph of the regime

by J.B. An Dang - E. Nguyen
The prelate hated by the government should leave by mid-month. State media are preparing to celebrate his departure as a "victory" of the regime, which laid down a "road map" to the Vatican. The most likely hypothesis is that the resignation of Mgr. Ngo is the price to open diplomatic dialogue with the Vatican and to allow a visit by Benedict XVI in Vietnam in 2011. Astonishment and sorrow among the faithful.

Hanoi (AsiaNews) - Local sources have informed AsiaNews that the archbishop of Hanoi, will resign in the coming days, after the installation of his coadjutor, on 7 May.

State reporters have confirmed that the resignation of the bishop will take place between 13 and 18 May at the latest. They have received orders from the State to portray the withdrawal of the Archbishop as a government victory in having forced the Vatican to accept their "road map". According to these journalists, for the weekend, the local government authorities are preparing a huge party to celebrate the "victory".

Questioned by AsiaNews, Mgr. Ngo neither confirmed nor denied the reports. But comments and movements within the Curia and among the priests make the news likely.

For at least two years Mgr. Ngo Quang Kiet, archbishop of Hanoi, has been the focus of a regime campaign to have him removed. Indeed, the prelate has always supported the requests and the prayers of faithful of Hanoi who suffer oppression, expropriation of land, churches, cemeteries, along with gratuitous violence.

In the current boom in economic growth and foreign investment, the party members seize land for personal gain, growing wealthy through speculation.

Archbishop Joseph Ngo Quang Kiet, 58, will be replaced by Msgr. Peter Nguyen Van Nhon, 72, installed as bishop coadjutor of Hanoi on 7 May. The ceremony was contested by teams of hundreds of faithful.

The appointment of an older coadjutor bishop (with right of succession) looks strange, even if the same Archbishop. Kiet has often stressed health reasons for his withdrawal. And among Catholics the hypothesis that the government has convinced the Vatican and the Vietnamese bishops' conference to remove Mgr. Kiet at all costs, is increasingly credited.  Even in exchange for “launching diplomatic relations" and the green light for Benedict XVI's visit to Vietnam on 6 January 2011.

Moreover state media, in reporting the news of the coadjutor bishop and his installation have continually stressed that everything was done "in accordance with the approval of the Prime Minister of Vietnam."

John Nguyen Thach Ha, local observers said AsiaNews. "The strategy of the state media seems to be to shake the confidence of Catholics to the Vatican. In all likelihood they want to snatch what is left of faith in the hearts of Catholics. "
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