09/17/2009, 00.00
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Loan Ly police chase children from catechism class

by Thuy Dung
Another case of conflict over church land in a village in the diocese of Hue. Local Vietnamese prefer police intervention to dialogue to resolve the problem.

Hue (AsiaNews) – There number of conflicts caused by local Vietnamese authorities failure to understand - or at least apply - the law on land subject to revision, are on the increase.  It is a problem on which even the bishops have spoken out.  

The parish of Loan Ly, in Loc Hai, Phu Loc district, in the Archdiocese of Hue, has 900 faithful, most of whom came here in 1954 from the North. On 15 September there was a "xoâ xaùt" (clash) with the police, who closed a catechism class.  

In previous months, the local authority had asked the residents for the deeds of their land, but those of the church were not presented. Even if the church land is used for private purposes. On 7 July, the parish priest, Father Joseph, was summoned to Loc Hai. The authorities asked him to bring the documents relating to the land of the church, but Father Joseph has no records, so he went along with the older parishioners to testify the right of the parish to the grounds.  

When Father Joseph did not return after an hour, all of his parishioners, young and old, went to the office of the village to provide support for their priest, to offer testimony over the ownership of the parish grounds and to protest the authority’s “dishonesty with the local church".  

Given this situation, the local authority chose not to deal with the issue through dialogue to reach an understanding. Instead, it has attempted to resolve the dispute through threats, discrimination and violence. As a result, Sunday 13 September, when the parish opened catechism classes for children and young people in their primary school, authorities and police - local, district and provincial - surrounded the school building. They did not allow the children to study catechism, chasing them from their classrooms so they could occupy the school.

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