Wednesday, September 10, 2008

An 82 year old Bishop travelled 334 km to join protestors

VietCatholic News (Thứ Tư 10/09/2008 19:23)

Despite of threats of imminent crackdown, more bishops have arrived Thai Ha to join protestors in a protest that challenges the communist government more boldly than ever.

Bishop Paul Cao Dinh Thuyen, 82, travelled 334 km on Wednesday from his Vinh diocese to Thai Ha – Hanoi to show his solidarity with protestors. “The problem of Thai Ha is also a trouble of Vinh and Thanh Hoa diocese, and of the entire Church in Vietnam,” said Bishop Paul Cao on arriving.

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Bishops Paul Cao and Joseph Nguyen at the site

The land dispute in Thai Ha by its nature is a civil row between a Catholic parish and a state-run company. However, the government, in its efforts to keep seizing the land illegally, mobilized its system of media to falsely accuse, distort, and defame parishioners, their priests, and the Church as a whole; and then attacked them physically. For almost a month, the state media has been fabricating stories each day in an attempt to discredit the Catholic Church. False priests, false Catholics have also been employed in interviews on TV, radio, and newspapers. These things “upset extremely” Bishop Paul Cao who “has monitored all developments in Thai Ha” with great concerns.

Bishop Joseph Nguyen Chi Linh of Thai Hoa diocese concelebrated Mass for protestors with Bishop Paul Cao and Bishop Joseph Dang Duc Ngan of Lang Son who has been among the protestors since last Friday. “We are here to show our communion with you,” said Bishop Joseph Nguyen in his sermon. He asked everyone to pray intensely “for those who were arrested and for those who have been harassed somehow by the government.”

Thousands of Catholics in nearby provinces had to ride bicycles to Thai Ha after their buses were forced to return by police.

Correspondents in Vietnam report that plain clothed police are hunting for Catholic reporters who have informed to the outside world developments of the protest. “I was about to send an email,” said a source who has requested anonymity for her own safety, “when police swamped in. The person next to me had his browsing history inspected. He even was forced to log-in his Gmail account for ‘security inspection’.”

Vietnam is closely monitoring reports of Catholic outlets on the protests. “VietCatholic News is completely firewalled. Other Catholic sites are still accesible. But you are in serious trouble should your browsing history include Asia-News, Catholic News Agency, Catholic World News, Independent Catholic News, Zenit...just to name a few” the source warned.

J.B. An Dang

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