Vietnamese bishop protests government destruction of monastery to build hotel

.- Bishop Thomas Nguyen Van Tan of the Diocese of Vinh Long has protested Vietnamese authorities’ plans to demolish a monastery and build a hotel on land confiscated from a religious order in 1977.

The bishop recounted in a strongly-worded May 18 letter what he called “a day of disaster” for the Diocese of Vinh Long.  On September 7, 1977, he wrote, “the local authorities mobilized its armed force to blockade and raid Holy Cross College… St. Paul monastery, and the Major Seminary.”  Authorities arrested all who were in charge of the institutions, including Bishop Nguyen Van Tan himself.

Fr. J.B. An Dang informed CNA that last month, local authorities in the southern Vietnamese province of Vinh Long (about 85 miles southwest of Saigon) announced a project to build a new hotel on the land belonging to the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul. 

Though the sisters have staged protests at the site and priests have voiced their opposition to the office of the Fatherland Front, the government has not responded to their concerns.

Instead, Bishop Nguyen Van Tan writes, “the government has summoned residents in the town to meetings in which they vow to take strong actions against those who dare to prevent the construction.”

The bishop said the pending destruction of the monastery is a “great suffering” both for the entire diocese and also for the Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul, who have been in Vinh Long since 1871. 

“We cannot consent with the decision imposed unjustly by those who have power in their hand, neither we can stay silent in the face of this outrage. Being silent means complicity and a compromise with injustice,” he wrote.

Bishop Nguyen Van Tan asked the faithful to “pray earnestly” for the diocese and the sisters.  He asked that they sing three Hail Marys and the Peace Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi every day to bring about a resolution.

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