The Archdiocese of Hanoi has condemned local government attacks against parishioners at Dong Chiem, including the “savage” and “brutal” beating of a Redemptorist brother by police. Thousands of Catholics have responded with ongoing prayer vigils in Hanoi and Ho Chi Min City writes Fr JB An Dang.
The attack is the latest incident in the parish, since the authorities blew up a cross in a cemetery on 6 January. Following the destruction of the cross, on 20 January a delegation from the archdiocese went to the area to visit the parish. Redemptorist Fr Peter Nguyen Van Khai said they were set upon by police at Xay Bridge, about one-third of a mile from the church. A layman was slightly injured, but Redemptorist Br Anthony Nguyen Van Tang was beaten so severely by police that he lost consciousness.
Diocesan vice-chancellor Fr Long Le Trong Cung, said hundreds of anti-riot police, militiamen and plainclothes police are manning checkpoints and preventing people from entering the area. Loudspeakers are broadcasting threatening messages around the clock.
A statement from the Archdiocese of Hanoi says that Dong Chiem’s pastor, Fr Nguyen Van Huu, and the assistant priest, Fr Nguyen Van Lien, have been repeatedly summoned and interrogated by police.
“Parishioners have been subjected to beatings and massive arrests,” it says, listing the names of 16 detainees.
The Archdiocese has asked all Catholics to “fervently pray” for priests and parishioners of Dong Chiem, especially for those who have been jailed and attacked.
Parishes have been asked to sing the Peace Prayer of St Francis of Assisi at the end of every Mass "until the persecution ends and justice is restored".
Last night 6,000 people took part in prayer vigil in the Redemptorist monastery in Ho Chi Minh City. In Hanoi , a similar vigil took place, with thousands of people, at the Cathedral of St Joseph, led by Auxiliary Bishop Lawrence Chu Van Minh.