04/07/2011, 00.00
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In Vietnam seminarians forced to study how to defend Communist Party

by J.B, An Dang
A "pilot program” for 191 students confirms the attitude of the government that while in recent years has expanded opportunities for access to the seminaries, continues its policy of control and interference in an attempt to indoctrinate, along Chinese lines, and bring Vietnamese Catholics under full control.

Hanoi (AsiaNews) - On 6 April, the newspaper Dai Doan Ket (Great Unity), voice of the Vietnamese Patriotic Front, published the news that "more than 191 seminarians in St. Quy , Can Tho province (see photo) started a pilot program with national security, which will run until 8 May". "The seminarians will be educated on the views, perspectives and policies of the Communist Party and State on grounds of national security and religious policies of the Party."

The news confirms the attitude of the government which in recent years has expanded opportunities for access to seminaries while also continuing its political control and interference and in an attempt to indoctrinate, along Chinese lines, and bring Vietnamese Catholics under full control.

Students who take part in the "pilot program" in fact "will investigate the responsibilities of the Catholic clergy to prevent and disrupt any attempt by hostile forces to overthrow the government through riots and social upheavals or through 'peaceful evolution'." The latter definition, only the exclusively used by the regime leadership and press reflects the regime’s fear that closer ties with the West could lead to a political liberalization that the Party would not be able to control.

For this reason the government is closely following priests formation and intervenes heavily.

In a way, this attitude is a result of the opening in recent years with regard to access to the seminaries. Since 2005, the St. Joseph Major Seminary in Hanoi may allow the entry of new students every year, instead of every two or three, the St. Joseph Major Seminary in Ho Chi Minh City, reopened in 1986 after a closure lasting 11 years, from 2007 it enjoys the same privilege. The latest statistical data for 2009, show that young men studying in the six major seminaries in the country have risen from 1,580 in 2002 to 2,186 in 2009.

For decades, the seminar teaching of Marxism-Leninism was compulsory: prior to ordination certain tests were required, such as Marxist Philosophy and History of the Vietnamese Communist Party. Even today a knowledge of politics is required.

In this context, the article "Card. Zen’s anger over Fr. Heyndrickx and Propaganda Fide’s "dialogue at all costs" published by AsiaNews has attracted great interest. Translated into Vietnamese and distributed by several Catholic sites, it appeared as a confirmation that the Vietnamese government is following the path of religious policies of China and the Vietnamese Church faces challenges similar to those facing the Church in China. Authorities slam the door on each channel for dialogue, with the exception of those who pass through the Committee for Solidarity of Vietnamese Catholics, as the former archbishop of Hong Kong says, "severely lacking in due loyalty to the Pope and communion with the universal Church "to please the government.

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