However in 2010, “after a few years of leading the faithful,” says Fr. Khai “in highly publicized quests for justice and truth against the oppression of the communist government,” his superiors decided to send him to Rome.
Unable to leave the country legally, he made a dangerous trek across the Vietnamese border into Laos and on to Thailand.
“After many perilous days during which I had more than once confronted the fear of death, I arrived in Bangkok,” the Thai capital.
“Throughout these escape episodes I knew that St. Joseph was protecting me in a special way. His own story of leading Mary and the baby Jesus to safety remained my constant hope and inspiration,” says Fr. Khai.
In Rome, his campaign for the Catholics of Vietnam continues. He shares photos of peaceful protest and prayer being suppressed by riot police, images of tear gas being used and women being beaten. He even shows prints of babies who, he claims, were forcibly aborted by the authorities. Fr. Khai says he carried out proper burials on each one.
He says the past few months spent “at the heart of the Church” has only deepened his “love and devotion to the causes of my Catholic brothers and sisters back home who still struggle and suffer every day for their faith in a ruthless regime.”
That suffering, he says, is “systematic” and “cunning” and comes in many guises from interference in episcopal appointments down to everyday discrimination in politics, the law and freedom of worship.
“The government uses all forces at their disposal, including the state media, the political apparatus, the laws and the public education system to stop the growth of the Catholic Church at all costs.”
“Catholics in every part of Vietnam are considered second-class citizens, deserving discrimination in legal treatment” he concludes.
His key message is that he not only wants the outside world to protest but also to pray for Vietnam, a country he believes is ripe for the message of Jesus Christ and the Gospel.
“Vietnamese society as a whole is thirsty for truth and justice and their result which is peace. They are tired of living under a regime full of lies, corruption and unjust treatment.”
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“When the Catholic leadership is strong in promoting these fundamental values, they earn the respect and loyalty of the poor, the educated and the young people who are seeking.”