09/03/2008, 00.00
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Dialogue, not repression, Cardinal Pham Minh Man tells government

In a pastoral letter, the archbishop of Ho Chi Minh City decries the behavior of the Hanoi authorities in the matter of the land belonging to the parish of Thai Ha and to the Redemptorists, whose superior, in a letter of his own, speaks of "persecution".

Hanoi (AsiaNews) - Cardinal Pham Minh Man is calling for dialogue and highlighting the shortcomings and errors in the law and the bad behavior of the authorities. Fr Vincent Nguyen Trung Thanh, the head of the Redemptorists, denounces "persecution". The two letters represent the most recent events in the long affair concerning the land belonging to the parish of Thai Ha, in the capital of Vietnam.

In a pastoral letter dated September 1 and sent to his diocese of Ho Chi Minh City, the cardinal emphasizes the contradictions and loopholes existing in property laws, presents the claims of the Redemptorists, criticizes the violent behavior of the police against the faithful of Thai Ha (in the photo), and asks for a frank and sincere dialogue and a spirit of brotherhood between the Redemptorists and the authorities of Hanoi, to resolve the question "in the light of the truth, justice, and charity".

In the first place, the cardinal notes that the state media have presented "only one side" of the matter. "Many have criticized that the whole picture portrayed by these outlets was only unilateral, and the truth has been truncated and distorted. That sort of information is to serve only personal interests of an individual or parties, not for the social welfare of the people, nor the stable development of the country as a whole".

The archbishop says that he has spoken with the superior of the Redemptorists, who say that they have "all of the legal and historical documents" to prove their ownership over the land in question. They also assert that "there has never been any document showing a transfer, usage authorization, donation or consecration to any organization or legal authority". The Redemptorists and the parish "are determined in demanding the truth and justice on their property issue, pursuant to what the constitution and the law of Vietnam have set forth, as well as the international laws which Vietnam has signed and pledged to observe".

Moreover, information provided by public officials, the cardinal writes, shows that "the land law, though has been revised five times, still contains a lot of nonsense. Many decrees and instructions overlap one another, and numerous articles contradict each other. In several regions, many complaints which had been solved by federal inspectors were not carried out by provincial governments. There have been numerous complaints everywhere as government officials keep making mistakes without being reprimanded. Human error is inevitable. However, in that case, correction should be a must. The government must sit down with complainants, listen to them and take each case seriously".

The Cardinal recalls that, following the magisterium of the Council, of John Paul II, and of the current pope, "the Church’s policy is to hold talks with all concerned parties in order to resolve every social issue with frank dialogue in respect for  truth, justice, and charity". "When the law is still inadequate in both reasonable and sentimental aspects, then it is not suitable for the truth and justice. As the current land law still contains much nonsense, and, on the other hand, authorities in many regions only blindly follow orders from their superiors without listening to people, nor taking each claim into consideration seriously, many disputes have been dragged on for too long, and the Thai Ha claim is no exception. Blindly carrying out nonsensical orders, abusing power, and using excessive force will not solve the problem, rather only cause more injustice and social instability".

For his part, Fr Vincent Nguyen Trung Thanh addresses the violence on the part of the police of Hanoi. “In these days", writes the superior of the Redemptorists, "earthly storms try to oppress us, the earthly power runs rampant over us”. "We are living up the Redemptorist vocation to a great extend: we are living the fate of the poor, of the persecuted, while continuing to proclaim the truth in the belief that the truth will set us free”.

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See also
Defaming sisters of Vinh Long to turn their orphanage into a hotel
Threats and media attacks against the Catholics of Dong Da
In Hanoi, stance of repression against Catholics seems to have won
Catholics are beaten, threatened for demanding the return of Church property
Bishops extend solidarity to faithful of Thai Ha


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