Hanoi Archbishop protests government's expropriation and destruction of former nunciature
Hanoi (AsiaNews) – Mgr Joseph Ngô Quang Kiệt, archbishop of Hanoi, has written a letter of protest to the president and to the prime minister of Vietnam, slamming today’s dawn invasion and destruction by police of the buildings of the former nunciature (see In Hanoi, stance of repression against Catholics seems to have won, 19 September 2008, AsiaNews).
In the letter the prelate reminds his interlocutors that in the past the government had promised to return the land to the diocese (a promise also made to the Vatican), demanding that all activities at the work site be stopped.
Equally he slams the violence and the disinformation campaign that is being carried out against the Church.
The old nunciature, which was once slated to become a bar and night club, is now expected to be turned into a public park, this according to unofficial sources.
Here is the full text of the letter sent by the archbishop of Hanoi:
Archbishop's Office of Hanoi
Hanoi, 19 September 2008
Urgent protest letter
To: Mr. Nguyễn Minh Triết, President of Social Republic of Vietnam
Mr. Nguyễn Tấn Dũng, Prime Minister of Socialist Republic of Vietnam Cc: The Committee for Religious Affairs
The People’s Committee of Hanoi City
The Department of Public Safety of Hanoi City
On September 19, 2008 morning, at the piece of land of the nunciature at 42 Pho Nha Chung, which belongs to the Archbishop's Office of Hanoi, a great mass of police and security forces, militiamen, and police dogs has besieged Hanoi archbishop residence and blocked Nha Chung street. Another team in huge numbers has demolished the fence, some other construction; and digged out the lawn in the front door of our nunciature. Archbishop's Office of Hanoi has repeatedly requested the building and its land to be returned to the Church but so far our aspiration has not been met. All in a sudden, on September 18 evening and September 19 morning, state television reported the demolition plan with distortional information to prepare public opinion for this illegal deed. This development is going against the policy of dialogue that the government and the Archbishop's office are conducting. This act is a deed that smears the legitimate aspiration of the Hanoi Catholic community, ridicules the law, and disrespects the Catholic Church in Vietnam. It is also an act of trembling morality, and mocking society’s conscience. The discuss on the ownership of the nunciature is still on the way but the authorities of Hanoi City and Hoàn Kiếm district have employed their armed forces to back the destruction of our property. Hence, Archbishop's Office of Hanoi strongly protests and requests 1) The government to stop besieging Hanoi archbishop residence, and end the demolition our property. 2) The government to restore the property to its original status, and return it to us so that it can be used for religious and community welfare purposes. 3) Relevant agencies and Hanoi City must accept responsibilities for all potential consequences born of this property appropriation. We have our rights to use all of our capabilities to protect our property. 4) The President, the Prime Minister of Social Republic of Vietnam, the authorities of Hanoi City, and relevant agencies to immediate interfere to put an end for this act. + Archbishop of Hanoi Joseph Ngô Quang Kiệt (signed and sealed)