Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Vietnamese regime uses Pope’s discourses to divide Church and arrest faithful

» 08/31/2009 13:11

by J.B. An Dang

The words of Benedict XVI to the bishops used to criticize the Vietnamese bishops, priests and faithful who have sunk the Church in "spiritual corruption”. Allegations also against priests who "planned" to overthrow the regime. Arrests of bloggers and dissidents.

Hanoi (AsiaNews) - A young Catholic catechumen, author of a blog, was arrested on August 27. Local sources tell AsiaNews that the police are preparing a new series of arrests of people who dare to criticize the distorted way in which the regimes’ newspapers have presented Benedict XVI’s address to the Vietnamese bishops during their recent ad Limina visit (See Daily Bulletin Holy See Press Office 27.06.2009).

Fr. Peter Nguyen Van Khai, a Redemptorist priest from Hanoi, confirmed to AsiaNews, "the arrest of Bui Thanh Hieu, a young catechumen of the diocese, who was studying to be baptized." "His arrest - added a nun - will not be the last. Many Catholic bloggers have criticized the 'shameful distortion' with which the state media presented the speech of Pope Benedict XVI to the Ad Limina bishops. All of them risk arrest. "

On 24 August last, Vietnam Net, a state media, published an article entitled "A good Catholic is a good citizen”. The article quotes several sentences of the pope, aiming to show that "Benedict XVI strongly criticized the bishops to concern themselves more that priests strive for holiness, so they may guide their flocks to live as the Pope intends, that is as good Catholics and good citizens. "

The article quoted two sentences of Benedict XVI: "The priest must deepen his inner life and strive for holiness" and "lay Catholics must show by their life, which is based on charity, honesty and love for the common good, that a good Catholic is also a good citizen". From this they have concluded that in Vietnam priests do not deepen their spiritual life, nor tend to holiness and the laity are not charitable, honest or loving and are not even good citizens.

This is a clear attempt to stigmatise the demonstrations of Catholics in recent months, the commitment of priest to justice and human rights, the involvement of lay people who strive to defend the rights of religious freedom. According to Father Joseph Nguyen of Hanoi, the impression one draws from the article is that “Benedict XVI himself has insulted the Church in Vietnam for its spiritual corruption”.

The article also condemns the Vietnamese bishops. Taking its cue from another passage in the Pope's speech in which he states that "healthy collaboration between the Church and the political community is possible", the article concludes by claiming it is "crystal clear" that the bishops have not been patient and open to dialogues in their relationship with the government and moreover they maintain a hostile attitude to the communist power.

In fact, as has been amply shown by the many cases of friction in recent months in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Vinh, Hue, the bishops have always sought dialogue with the government, but in response the Vietnamese police beat, criticized and arrested the faithful, and endangered the life of some priests.

In his address, Benedict XVI states that "Her [the Church] intention is certainly not to replace government leaders". The interpretation that the article gives is that the pope has long known of a plot by Catholic priests to overthrow the government, suggesting that the Vietnamese bishops identify and isolate those responsible.

See also from Asia News, "No pardon for Father Ly on Vietnamese National Day."


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