ASIA NEWS REPORT: by Trung Tin
In addition to the 117 martyrs canonised by John Paul II on 16 June 1988, we must remember those who are oppressed and discriminated for their religion, those who proclaim the Word of God. Fr Nguyễn Văn Phượng, vicar of Thái Hà Church, makes an appeal once more against the expropriation of parish land. “We are praying for the dangerous task of seeking justice and truth,” he said.
Hanoi (AsiaNews) – Vietnamese Catholics are currently praying and celebrating Mass in memory of their country’s 117 martyrs, who were canonised by John Paul II on 16 June 1988. The various communities, especially those of Hanoi, are also commemorating today’s martyrs, those who are oppressed, those who lost their job or are discriminated because of their religion, those who pray and work for justice and peace, as well as those who proclaim the Word of God.
The latest case is the attack against Thái Hà Church on 3 November, when hundreds of police agents and soldiers broke down the church’s main door, tried to pick a quarrel with the vicar and parishioners present and threatened to kill members of the Redemptorist Order.
The attack came after local authorities tried to force the Redemptorists to give up part of parish land they have owned since 1928 in order to build a water treatment plant for the nearby hospital.
After the attack, the vicar called on the authorities to drop their plans and return the land they had seized from the parish. Between 2008 and 2009, the parish lost 41,455 m2 of the 61,455 it owned. The whole thing ended in a phoney trial that saweight Catholics tried and convicted.
“We agree with the local project to improve the life of the community,” Fr Nguyễn Văn Phượng, vicar to the Thái Hà Parish Church, said. “However, this should not mean looting out congregation.”
“Redemptorists rented Church land to local authorities during the war. The latter used it and now should return it to us and allow us to perform our pastoral and charitable activities for the 20,000 people of this community,” the clergyman explained. “Both Catholics and non-Catholics need the Redemptorists.”
“Our prayers are meant to express our gratitude to God,” Fr Nguyễn noted. “Suffering and persecution help us see the truth. When we endure injustice, we can deal with them by loving our neighbours more.”
“We are all here,” he added, “to pray for Thái Hà Parish, committed to the dangerous task of seeking justice and truth.”