“Patriotic” Vietnamese send Christmas cards, signing on behalf of the Church

ICC Note:

Christmas cards sent out by the Vietnamese government on behalf of the Catholic church show underlying signs of the governments relationship with the church.

12/22/2010 Vietnam (AsiaNews) – Christmas cards, printed by government press, but signed on behalf of the Catholic Church, is the latest initiative of the ” Vietnam Committee for Catholic Solidarity “, a Vietnamese copy of the Chinese patriotic Catholics, who since 1955 – indeed with very poor results – have been trying to build a “national” church.

Again, in the footsteps of the Eighth Assembly of the representatives of Chinese Catholics, Hanoi is trying a new move to gain control over the Church. The letter, signed “The Committee for Solidarity of Vietnamese Catholics and the Catholic Church in Vietnam” has succeeded in creating great concern among Catholics. In Vietnamese culture, in fact, there is a particular sensitivity to the order in which persons or entities are mentioned in a sentence, as if it accurately reflects their respective levels or importance or respect within the community. In some cases it can also be seen as a reflection of the “master-servant” relationship. For this reason, for attentive Catholic activists, the text of the letter and the fact that it was first published on 19 December, by An Ninh Thu Do the police newspaper, indicates a new wave of attempts by the government of Hanoi to realize its everlasting burning desire to control the Catholic Church.

In the meantime, attacks against religious communities continue relentlessly. A protest letter by Father Joseph Dinh Huu Thoai, head of the Secretariat of the Redemptorist province, published December 20, complains that their monastery of Dalat in the Central Highlands, was taken by the authorities of the province of Lam Dong to be transformed in an institution for biological studies. This, points out the religious, violates Section 5 of Article 25 of the law on land and violates our rights.

“All over the world – writes father Huu Thoai – people preparing to celebrate Christmas, here in Vietnam we are still on Good Friday, before the Passion.”

The “extraordinarily good” treatment reserved for “patriotic” Catholics further underlines government policy. And the ecclesiastical authorities appear tolerant of behaviour that violates the unity of the Church, even before canon law.

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