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Vietnam tells Catholics to stop prayer vigils

ICC Note:

Vietnam authorities have reportedly had enough of the prayer vigils for the return of confiscated church property. The meetings have gone on for almost a month, and just last week the church leaders received a letter telling them to stop the “illegal activities” or face action.

1/16/2008 Vietnam (Inquirer) Authorities in the Vietnamese capital have told Catholics to stop mass prayer vigils demanding the return of church land seized in the 1950s, a Catholic news website said Wednesday.

For almost a month, thousands of faithful have held prayer vigils in and around Hanoi, representing the faith’s largest challenge so far to the communist government.

The Hanoi People’s Committee last week wrote to church leaders telling them to stop the “illegal activities” or face action by the authorities, website reported, publishing an image of the letter.

“Those activities have disturbed public order and negatively affected the good cooperative relations between the Vietnamese bishop’s council, the archbishop and the local authorities,” the letter said.

The rallies had given a “pretext for wrongdoers to… spread distortions” and “affected the image of Catholics in the community and the improving relation between the State of Vietnam and the Vatican,” it said.

Christians have held nightly prayer vigils since December 18 outside the property, located near Hanoi’s central St Joseph’s Cathedral, with the meetings at times swelling to thousands of people and blocking traffic.

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung — who a year ago became the first communist Vietnamese leader to visit the Vatican — met Archbishop Kiet during a mass prayer meeting in late December and pledged to consider the issue.

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