Vietnam: Vatican appeals for calm as prayer protests continue

 In the face of mounting tensions between the Vietnamese authorities and thousands of people staging prayer vigils, calling for the return of confiscated Church property, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State of the His Holiness His Excellency wrote to Archbishop Joseph Ngo Quang Kiet of Hanoi on 30 January, appealing for calm. In his letter, the Cardinal writes: 'As you probably know, the Secretary of State follows with a great attention and concern on the events of these last several days in Hanoi, related to the tensions which exist for a long time between your archdiocese and the public authorities in connection with the rights of ownership and usage of the building adjoining to the archdiocesan office, which for many years, accommodated the Apostolic Delegation in Vietnam. 'I am filled with admiration before the feelings of earnest devotion and profound attachment to the Church and the Holy See shown by thousands of faithful who, day after day, gather peacefully to pray in front of this building, which has become a symbol, in order to request the responsible civic offices to take into account the needs of the Catholic community. 'But on the other hand, the fact that such demonstrations continue, can only raise some concerns, because, as it often happens in similar cases, there exists a real danger that the situation can get out of control, and that it can degenerate into demonstrations of verbal or even physical violence. 'This is why, in the name of the Holy Father, who is constantly informed of the evolution of the situation, I kindly request you to intervene, so that acts which could disrupt the public order be avoided, and that the situation comes back to normality. It will be thus possible, in a more serene climate, to resume the dialogue with the authorities, in order to find a fitting solution to this delicate problem. 'I can assure you that the Holy See, for its part, as it has always done, will not fail to explain to the government of your country the legitimate aspirations of Vietnamese Catholics.'

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