Vietnam: state accuses archbishop of inciting protests

 As thousands of Catholics continue to take part in daily prayer vigils outside confiscated church properties, the state media has accused Hanoi Archbishop Joseph Ngo Quang Kiet of inciting the protests, and the security forces have threatened to disperse the crowds with Generals threaten to "extreme actions".

The New Hanoi newspaper on Monday carried a report in which Lt General Nguyen Van Huong, Vice-Minister of Public Security, said the protestors at Thai Ha were "belittling the laws, and disrupting public order". He threatened to severely punish anyone "who incites protests."

Major-General Nguyen Duc Nhanh, Director of the Hanoi Police Agency said: "the presence of priests where Catholics assemble to pray illegally, or to perform riot behaviours, or to destroy state properties, by itself, is an act of riot stimulation."

The New Hanoi goes on to accuse Archbishop Joseph Ngo Quang Kiet of attempting to associate the dispute in Thai Ha and the one at the former nunciature and blames him for encouraging 82 priests in Hanoi to sign their Letter of Communion with Thai Ha parish.

In a Letter of Communion sent to the Provincial Superior of the Redemptorists in Vietnam and the Superior of Thai Ha Monastery, dated 8 September ., Bishop Anthony Vu Huy Chuong of Hung Hoa gives his full support for Vietnamese Redemptorists in their effort to regain their land in Thai Hai.

"I have prayed," writes Bishop Anthony Vu, "for justice and the truth may be honored not only in Thai Ha but also in anywhere that people still have to suffer injustice and dishonesty."

Correspondents in Vietnam report that the state media is fabricating stories each day in an attempt to discredit the Catholic Church.

"Recently," Bishop Anthony Vu illustrates, "the vicar of Can Kiem confirmed with me that the man who spoke on state television against Thai Ha on behalf of Can Kiem parishioners is only a local government official ­ not a Catholic at all."

Major-General Nhanh has threatened to punish anyone who write and distribute articles relating to Catholic protests on the Internet.

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