Thursday, January 22, 2009

U.S. Bishops visit archdiocese of Hanoi

VietCatholic News (22 Jan 2009 14:15)

A group of U.S. Bishops has started their visit in the archdiocese of Hanoi to show their support and solidarity with bishops, priests and laity of Vietnam capital who have suffered injustice and a series of crackdowns from the atheist government.

Cardinal Pham Dinh Tung, Archbishop Ngo Quang Kiet, U.S. Bishops and Vietnamese priests

Bishop Todd Brown of Orange County
Archbishop George Niederauer of San Francisco, Bishop Ignatius Chung Wang, Auxiliary Bishop of San Francisco, Bishop Todd Brown of Orange County, Bishop Dan Walsh of Santa Rosa, Fr. Jerry McCormick of the Diocese of Monterey, and some faithful from California, USA were first foreign visitors to call on Archbishop Joseph Ngo Quang Kiet after the latter had suffered a long period of virtual house arrest and public insult by state-controlled media.

The Church in Vietnam has struggled through a difficult year, clashing with the Communist regime repeatedly over the ownership of properties that were seized by the government from Church ownership. The most dramatic conflicts have occurred in Hanoi, where lay Catholic activists have staged public protests demanding the return of a building that once housed the offices of the apostolic nuncio in Vietnam, and a piece of property that belonged to a Redemptorist monastery. Last December, several Catholic activists were tried for charges of destroying state property during a protest at the Redemptorist monastery.

Earlier, on last September, government officials denounced Archbishop Ngo for his failure to denounce the Catholic demonstrators, and threatened legal action against the prelate. The archbishop's residence has frequently been surrounding by mobs of government supporters, and in response to threats the archbishop has severely curtailed his public activities, generally remaining at home.

U.S. Bishops and their companions concelebrated Mass with Archbishop Joseph Ngo and hundreds of Vietnamese priests in St. Joseph Cathedral on Wednesday morning.

In his sermon, Bishop Todd Brown, noted that the liturgical calendar for the day honored St.Agnes, a Roman girl who was only thirteen years old when she suffered martyrdom for her Faith. Her love for the Lord was very great and she hated sin even more than death! Agnes was promised with wonderful gifts if she would only deny God, but she refused and bowed her head for the death-stroke of the sword.

Each year on this day young lambs are brought to the Roman Church named in her honor,” Bishop Todd continued. “The lambs are blessed and then cared for until they are sheared and their wool woven into the pallia given to the new archbishops named that year. That is the history of the pallium Archbishop Joseph Ngo Quang Kiet is wearing today.

The sermon was seen by many as an encouragement to the attitude of the archbishop not to compromise with injustice and immorality even at the cost of grave sufferings.

Catholics in Hanoi felt warm with Bishop Todd’s conclusion: “Please be assured of our prayers and support.”

The Diocese of Orange California and the Archdiocese of Hanoi created "sister diocese" relationship last August. Under the partnership, the American diocese for the first time would sponsor four seminarians from Vietnam in their training to become priests. The diocese would also send priests to Hanoi to teach English and at seminaries.

After the Diocese of Orange established its partnership with Hanoi, other dioceses in the United States followed. The Diocese of Los Angeles and the Archdiocese of Saigon, for instance, are now sister dioceses.

J.B. An Dang

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