.- The Archdiocese of Hanoi has condemned local government attacks against Catholics at Dong Chiem parish, including the “savage” and “brutal” beating of a Redemptorist brother by police.
The attack is the latest incident near Dong Chiem parish, where local authorities blew up a cemetery’s crucifix in the early morning of Jan. 6.
On Wednesday, police “brutally” beat Redemptorist Br. Anthony Nguyen Van Tang so severely that he lost consciousness, the archdiocese said in a statement.
The statement, signed by vice-chancellor Fr. Long Le Trong Cung, reported that a group of priests and religious had wanted to visit Dong Chiem after they learned of escalating violence against parishioners and priests.
As of Jan. 20, the parish was “completely besieged” and police at checkpoints prohibited anyone from entering, J.B. An Dang tells CNA.
The delegation from the archdiocese was stopped by police at Xay Bridge, about one-third of a mile from the church. Hanoi Redemptorists spokesman Fr. Peter Nguyen Van Khai told the Vietnam Redemptorist provincial Superior that four of the five policemen there attacked Br. Anthony Nguyen and a layman.
“The lay man was slightly injured, but Br. Anthony Nguyen suffered serious injuries on the head, lips and eyes,” reported Fr. Peter Nguyen, who said the brother was “savagely assaulted” and lost consciousness.
“The shirt of the lay man, and the one of a motorbike driver, who helped to transport him to a nearby parish, were soaked with the Redemptorist's blood,” he said.
Locals reportedly recognized the attackers as “police from [the] inner city of Hanoi.”
The Archdiocese of Hanoi expressed great concern about the violent situation at Dong Chiem, J.B. An Dang reports. It said “hundreds” of anti-riot police, militiamen and plainclothes police are deployed in the area to bar passage to and from the parish.
The Archdiocese reported that Dong Chiem’s pastor, Fr. Nguyen Van Huu, and the assistant priest, Fr. Nguyen Van Lien, have been repeatedly summoned and interrogated by police.
“Parishioners have been subjected [to] beatings and massive arrests,” it continued, listing the names of 16 detainees.
Additionally, parishioners are being blasted by threatening messages on public loudspeakers which broadcast all day long.
The Archdiocese of Hanoi has asked all Catholics to “fervently pray” for priests and parishioners of the parish, especially for those who have been jailed and attacked “in this time of difficulty.” It also sought prayers for respect for human rights.
J.B. An Dang tells CNA that parishes have been asked to sing the “Peace Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi” at the end of every Mass until the persecution ends and justice is restored.