Tuesday, 9th September 2008. 11:16am
By: Roberto Sanchez Guevara.
The Bishops of Hai Phong and Thai Binh have visited Thai Ha, Vietnam and joined more than 6,000 Catholics campaigning for the return of confiscated church property.
Last Friday, Bishop Joseph Vu Van Thien, from Hai Phong Diocese, travelled 100km to Hanoi to give his support to protestors. "In these days media coverage has bewildered and confused Catholics and non-Catholics. There have been so many news reports defaming the reputation and dignity of Catholics. Let us pray so that everybody knows how to respect the truth and defend justice” said Bishop Joseph.
On the same day, more than 3, 000 Catholics applauded Bishop Francis Nguyen Van Sang who had travelled 110km from his Thai Binh Diocese to join protestors. Eighty two Catholic priests in Hanoi also gave their full support to Thai Ha parish. In a letter to the government they asked: "The issue in its nature is only a civil dispute between Thai Ha parish and the Chien Thang Sewing Company, how come this government mobilized the whole system of media and even its armed force to assault the parish?"
The letter demanded that the Vietnamese government would "not criminalize such disputes of a civil nature. Stop summoning and arresting parishioners; do not politicize such internal disputes, do not take security measures of a violent nature in resolving the parishioners' legitimate demands".
On Saturday, more than 6,000 Catholics braved the rain to attend the largest prayer protest so far at Thai Ha, Hanoi. Two more bishops, The Bishops of Lang Son and Phat Diem arrived on Saturday to take part. Bishop Joseph Dang said: "I feel very emotional to be with you here. To witness the way you express your desires for values of faith, justice and peace."