Fr. Vincent Nguyen Trung Thanh, the provincial superior of the Redemptorists in Vietnam, on Sunday issued a letter lamenting that the Vietnamese government has not stopped leveling false accusations against Catholics demonstrating to recover confiscated church properties. The religious superior said that his hope for dialogue with the communist government is vanishing.
Basing his remarks upon the biblical passage “No servant is greater than his master (Jn 15:20),” Father Vincent Nguyen’s letter told his fellow Redemptorist priests that the talks with the government have reached a stalemate.
“We had opportunities to talk with the leaders of the nation who are in charge of the Committee For Religious Affairs and the Ministry of Public Security... to present our aspiration for justice and peace,” he wrote, in the letter.
However, the Vietnamese government did not accede to his requests to halt its false media reports, release all those who have been arrested, and “to dialogue seriously on the Thai Ha dispute and return the land to us.”
The Thai Ha Church dispute concerns land which the government had confiscated from a Redemptorist monastery.
“There were promises [from state officials],” he reported. But, unfortunately, “even the simple promise to stop the assault of state-run media against us has never been respected!”
Father Vincent Nguyen asked his Redemptorist brothers to recite continuous nine day novenas to Our Lady of Perpetual Hope. He also asked for the intercession of Saint Alphonsus Liguori and all Redemptorist Saints and Blesseds. In particular, he named Blesseds Ivan Ziatyk, Dominik Trechka, Vasil Velechkovskyi, Nicholas Charnetsky, and Zenon Kowalyk, all of whom were victims of communist persecution in the twentieth century.
Meanwhile on Sunday, a bishop from France arrived in Hanoi to show his support for the demonstrators at Thai Ha Church.
Bishop Jean Legrez of the Diocese of Saint Claude, guided by a Redemptorist priest, joined thousands of demonstrators in prayers. He was briefed on the situation, being told that tensions in the area are increased by the presence of hundreds of police armed with stun guns.
The bishop’s presence helped calm many of the protestors who wondered why so many police had been deployed.
“I don’t think they dare to attack us in front of a foreigner, especially a bishop,” a student told Asia-News. “I feel safe and can concentrate better on my prayers,” she added.
Major-General Nguyen Duc Nhanh, who is Director of the Hanoi Police Agency, was present with many high-ranking police officials to observe and to direct police to film protestors, which is believed to be an intimidation tactic.
On Saturday there was a surprise protest at the former papal nunciature after 32 sisters of the Adorers of the Holy Cross, having made their perpetual vows at St. Joseph Cathedral in Hanoi. Following the Mass, priests led the faithful in procession to the nunciature.The nunciature was the site of daily protests seeking the return of the confiscated property until February 1, when the government promised to return it to the Church. However, the government has managed to delay returning the Nunciature through various bureaucratic maneuvers.