Vietnam: government stalls over return of confiscated church property

 Hanoi Catholics are become impatient with the progress in the promised return of confiscated church property. A month of demonstrations ended on 1 February, when Archbishop Joseph Ngo Quang Kiet of Hanoi said that the government had agreed to return the old apostolic nuncio in Hanoi to the Church. That day, protesters removed a cross and tent from a piece of land near St Joseph's Cathedral and went home. However, instead of returning the building, public workers repainted the fence surrounding the site, strengthened the gates, and erected new panels with communist symbols and slogans reiterating that the building is state-owned. In addition, new security measures were imposed. The state-run media also continue to broadcast and publish anti-Catholic stories. Fr Paul Tran in Saigon said: "the orchestrated campaign of state-run media attacks on Catholics indicates things may be not as easy as expected." He feared that "the government is going to put forward to Vietnamese Bishops more conditions in exchange to the requisition of the former nunciature". He pointed out that the Vietnamese government has closely followed China in its religious policies. It struggled to build a state-approved Church, known as the Vietnamese Patriotic Church, separated from the Holy See, but he said, this failed. "thanks to the fidelity of the Bishops, priests, religious and lay people to Christ and the Church." "When Catholics in Vietnam dare to stand up for justice, they get more popularity and the admiration of the oppressed which are more and more numerous in Vietnam", said Sr Marie Nguyen. An Dang

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