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Sunday, December 11, 2016
Vietnam: Catholics mark New Year with mass demonstration for church land
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 Three thousand Hanoi Catholics marched for justice at Thai Ha Redemptorists monastery on Saturday, while ten thousand Saigon Catholics showed their solidarity at a vigil in Hanoi. After Saturday Mass celebrated by Archbishop Joseph Ngô Quang Kit of Hanoi at the parish of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, the faithful joined those who have been protesting peacefully since 7 January to demand the return of their 14 acres of land held by the government. Amid pouring rain, carrying a large cross, the Redemptorists led a procession to the property where the crowds chanted,and sang for hours in front of dozens of crosses and icons of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, which are hanging on the fence that surrounds the confiscated property. Throughout the day, hundreds vehicles were busy going back and forth carrying Catholics from dioceses of Bc Ninh, Hi Pḥng, Namnh, Hà Tây, Vnh Yên to the site. Some had to travel up to 400km to join protestors. Foreseeing the Saturday's mass demonstration, security forces set up barriers to prevent a similar incident as in the former nunciature where protestors poured in and camped inside. However, the barriers were removed later. Large numbers of security police, in uniform and in plain-clothes, were on the site, mingling in the demonstrators' ranks, taking photos and filming with video cameras. In a message sent on 7 January to all the Redemptorists in the country, the provincial superior Fr Joseph Cao Dinh Tri said the local government has illegally confiscated land belonging to their monastery at Thai Ha, Hanoi and is supporting a construction project there. He said the Redemptorists had responded by gathering people to pray at the construction site, asking the government to respect fairness and put justice into practice. "I would earnestly implore all of you, the whole province of Vietnam, to be in solidarity with our brother Redemptorists in Hanoi, in order to pray for our common apostolate," Fr Joseph said. Thousands of parishioners have been surrounding church bulletin boards to see images and read articles relating to the protests in Hanoi. There is no independent, privately-run media in Vietnam and the state media has been largely silent about the recent protests. Catholics in Vietnam have been getting the news mostly through the Internet and church bulletin boards. JB An Dang
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